Phew! Today’s episode gets fiery 🔥🔥🔥! Many of us were taught to “turn the other cheek” as a call to be a doormat or to naively “love someone” into change. In today's episode, I’m not holding back as I paint a picture of what I think the Bible really teaches about standing firm against toxicity.
You'll discover a completely different picture of what it means to turn the other cheek. Here's what we cover:
1. What "turn the other cheek" really means
2. What the Bible has to say about toxic behavior
3. Why it doesn’t work to “love people” into change
4. Examples of toxicity & how to protect yourself
5. How to be shrewd when dealing with gossip, cruelty or manipulation
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Sermon On the Mount: Matthew 5
Matthew for Everyone by N.T. Wright
National Domestic Abuse Hotline: Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for 24/7 free, confidential support
Scriptures about how to be wise: Proverbs 14:7, Proverbs 23:9, Proverbs 26:4-5, Proverbs 18:7, Galatians 6:7, Proverbs 29:11
Related Podcast Episodes:
Episode 2: What Should I Know About Gaslighting?
Episode 24: Boundaries, the Spectrum of Toxicity, and a Note About Evil
Episode 25: Types of No Part 1—How to Say “No” in Healthy Relationships
Episode 26: Types of “No” Part 2—How to Say “No” to Toxicity
The Best of You Podcast:
With Dr. Alison Cook with Guest Curtis Chang
Episode 57: What Does the Bible Really Say?
Alison: This show is sponsored by BetterHelp. It's so easy to get caught up in what everyone else needs from you, and never take a moment to check in with yourself. Let alone identify what you need from yourself. I know that, in my own life, having a regular time to check in with someone else who's going to ask me the hard questions. Ask me about my week. Ask me about what I'm thinking about, what priorities, what relationships might need be realigned, to create just a little bit more space for me to do my own work is so important.
Therapy can give you the tools to find more balance in your life, so you can keep supporting others without leaving yourself behind. It's helpful for learning positive coping skills to check in on what's cluttering up your mind. To help you check in on the messages you're telling yourself. The things you might be subtly starting to believe about yourself or other people, that need to be realigned. It can help you take those steps to set better boundaries and to become the best version of yourself. There are just so many reasons that we can all benefit from therapy.
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Alison: Hey, everyone, I'm Dr. Alison, and I'm so glad you're here to discover what brings out the best of you. This podcast is all about breaking free from painful patterns, mending the past, and discovering our true selves in God. I can't wait to get started as we learn, together, how to become the best version of who we are with God's help.
Hey everyone, and welcome back to this week's episode of The Best of You podcast. Today is the last episode in this series we've been doing called What Does the Bible Really Say? And it is packed, we are covering all kinds of hard questions in today's finale episode. This has been such a popular series. We'll come back and do another round two Listeners Choice edition in the coming months.
In the meantime, do not forget to sign up for my weekly The Best of You email, it comes out every Thursday. It's free, and every week I include some sort of bonus content related to the podcast. You also get three free resources, when you sign up for it you get a Boundaries Kickstart Guide, another eBook, as well as a guided audio exercise.
So you can head over to my website, dralisandcook.com, to sign up for that email or you can see the link in today's episode shownotes. I am so excited about our new series that launches next week. Stay tuned for more information about that. I've been planning this one for a long time and I cannot wait to share it with you. So thank you for being here.
Thank you so much for just your notes, your comments, for what you share with me about what this podcast has meant to you.
It means so much to me to hear from you, to know that what we're doing here matters to you. It matters a lot to me. This is my passion; my life is bringing together my faith with psychology. Bringing together what I know to be true of God.
What I know to be true about the Bible, into relationship with what I know to be true about the human self, about what it means to be human in this world. That we are not, as we talked about at the end of last week's episode, that we are not just quote-unquote, "Saved" to get to a better place after we die.
That we are, in fact, in the process of being made whole right now. Which means we are in the process of learning how to live out our God-given lives, our God-given talents. Our God given abilities, in our families, in our relationships, in our communities, in our own souls right now. The healing starts now. Where we learn how to become more whole, more true, more emotionally regulated, more clear, more creative, as we are parents, as we are friends, as we are community members, and as we allow others to come alongside us.
As we forge these healthy two-way relationships that can, sometimes, feel so hard, so challenging in this messy world that we live in. But there are tools, there are strategies that we have to equip ourselves to do this work of being a human well, and that's what this podcast is all about. I love creating it each week. I'm so grateful that you're here and I cannot wait to dive in to today's topic – Should I turn the other cheek?
Now, we're going to get into what that means, some strategies for how to actually do that effectively. Which means in a way that does not simply give other people permission to take advantage of you. And then we're going to talk about the specifics of some of the kinds of toxicity that we bump up against, especially this thing of gaslighting.
That's such a buzzword, but it's a very real thing and very common in our world today. Where there's just so much spin, so much manipulation, so much deception. So many half-truths everywhere, and how are we to stand firm in the face of all that. Which is a little bit more of what I think turn the other cheek really means.
So should I turn the other cheek? This is an expression we throw around. It comes directly from the words of Jesus, and here's a passage from Matthew 5:38-39, where Jesus talks about this concept. Here's what Jesus says, "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek turn to them the other cheek also." And then He goes on with a few other similar statements.
So this whole passage is in the context of Jesus's Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, and there's a whole lot of this upside down gospel that Jesus is talking about in the Sermon of the Mount. We touched on this last week, of this way in which Jesus is ushering in this whole new way of thinking about what it means to follow Him. A whole new way of what it means to be an image bearer.
To be a person who reflects the image of God, in the world. And He's trying to upend a little bit the old way of thinking about that, which was this way of following a code of laws.
And I turn here to N.T. Wright, who again, is a prominent New Testament scholar, who writes a lot about this idea of how Jesus isn't, necessarily, trying to replace one law with another law.
He's not simply trying to say, "well, no, now you're not going to do this Ten Commandment thing. In fact, I'm elevating it to a whole new law." Which is, sometimes, how we interpret this passage. It's like, "The whole new way to be a Christian is we're just supposed to turn the other cheek, take mistreatment from others. Just give everything away. Just let everybody walk all over us." That's the new way to follow God. And it's a lot more nuanced than that, according to Wright.
What Wright says, and I think this is really true in the context of the larger mosaic, that is the New Testament, is that Jesus is not giving prescriptions here. He's not giving mandates. He's describing what it looks like when you become a part of God's kingdom. Where you're living as a beloved child of God. There's this radical shift in how you orient to life.
Where you're living less from yourself, from that ego, from that need to be vindicated. From that fight/flight state of eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, and instead from a whole place, a healed place. Which is not a place of being a doormat, it's a place of conviction. Of being so anchored in the truth of who you are as God's beloved child.
That your whole orientation to other people, including to other people who would seek to do you harm, is changed from the inside out. So these are not shallow declaratives, where it's like, suddenly, Jesus is saying, "You just need to give everybody else everything you own and just be foolish." Because we know that Jesus is no fool, and I'll get into that here in a minute.
But I first just want to paint this broad picture here, of Jesus is suggesting that when you live as a child of God and you live in this new kingdom that Jesus is ushering in. You are so anchored, so confident, in who you are and in this life, this new life, that God has given you. That you have tasted the nectar of ultimate reality, and it is so good and so beautiful. And you are so filled with the hope of what it means to be redeemed, to be made whole.
To become that beautiful, light-bearing person, who has purpose, who has dignity, who is being healed of wounds. Who is being brought into the wholeness of responsibility, and of goodness, and of beauty, and of creativity, and becoming someone who walks with God, with purpose, in this life. That suddenly dealing with evil, dealing with people who want to hurt us, dealing with toxicity, has a whole new connotation.
It doesn't mean we don't need to deal with it. It doesn't mean we need to be foolish and pretend like it's not there. It means it takes on a whole new connotation. This is not something that can be achieved with superficial willpower, or with naive platitudes or with simplistic niceties, pleasantries, or half-hearted, sort of, being a nice person.
This is not the powerful picture that Jesus is painting in Matthew 5. It's this picture of I have so much hope in who God is and what God is really about in His work, to bring radical healing. To bring radical transformation to those who have been hurt the most. To those who've been the most traumatized, the most victimized, the most deeply broken, the most deeply wounded.
That the God that we serve is so powerful. That He is reaching every corner of the deepest, darkest places of this busted up world, to bring people out of bondage. Literal bondage, physical bondage, emotional bondage, metaphorical bondage, spiritual bondage, and into the truth of dignity, of purpose, of wholeness.
I believe so much in that God and the radical work He is doing in every corner of this world, and in every corner of my soul. I believe so much in this vision that I begin to see that the last are actually going to be first. That I begin to understand what it means that those who hunger are going to be filled, and that those who are suffering are going to be comforted, and that those who are persecuted are going to find their freedom. And that I'm, in fact, a part of bringing those realities of wholeness, of healing, of redemption into being.
There's a power in that that allows us to orient ourselves to the insults, to the persecutions, to the violations, to the deceptions, to the false accusations in a different way. From a place of deep, grounded conviction.[00:13:07] < Music >
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So against that backdrop, we arrive at this idea of what it means to turn the other cheek. So in many ways, and for many of us, this phrase has been used to suggest that as a Christ follower, as someone who loves God, that you are supposed to simply put up with abuse and mistreatment. You're supposed to be the bigger person. There's a way in which we're taught that what you're supposed to do is love the offending party into seeing the error of their ways. And that your loving response is what will prompt the other person to change, and sometimes that works.
Sometimes we are called, in certain situations, to simply show grace, show mercy. There is a time and a place for that, but that's not always the best strategy in real life. There are circumstances where that is just simply not wise. If you're in a situation where someone is abusing you, coming after you with toxic strategies, you are not going to be able to, quote-unquote, "Love them into change." You are, in fact, going to need to get yourself out of that situation. You are going to need to be strategic.
Now, we talked about this back in the series on boundaries. Where I delineate different kinds of boundaries. There are the everyday boundaries that you need to set even with people you love. Where sometimes you do absolutely just need to show love and show mercy, instead of executing your right to be upset with somebody. We see this all the time in long-standing friendships, or in family relationships, or in marriage.
But in that series, I also delineate when you need to say no to toxicity. Which is a very different type of strategy that's in episodes 24, 25, and 26. Some of those different ways of setting boundaries that are appropriate for different types of different situations.
In these types of scenarios where you're in a toxic situation, where you're being abused by a spouse or a boss, maybe you're being harassed. Maybe you're being systematically undermined or manipulated, maybe you're being bullied. Maybe somebody is lying about you or spreading lies about you, behind your back. This is not a type of situation where you are just supposed to continue to take the pain, just be the bigger person, just to ignore it.
If you think about your child, if they were being bullied, systematically, on the playground, you would talk to them about how to get themselves out of that situation. You wouldn't want to put your child in a position of being harmed by another person. It's just not wise, and it's not wise for us to do as adults. When you're dealing with folks who are really using some of these very toxic strategies to harm you, it's foolish to pretend that you can just love that person into change. In many cases, we can just end up enabling toxic behavior and harming ourselves, in the process.
Instead, I would posit to you that turning the other cheek is actually a very brave counter move. It's not being a doormat. And I turn here, again, to N.T. Wright where he shows this nuanced understanding of this very passage from Matthew 5, and I'm going to read from this passage in his book Matthew for Everyone. This is what N.T. Wright says, "To be struck on the right cheek in that world, almost, certainly, meant being hit with the back of the right hand. That's not just violence, it's an insult. It implies that you're an inferior, perhaps a slave, a child, or in that world, and, sometimes, even today, a woman."
So, again, in my words, this slap on the right cheek is not just abuse, although, it is that. It's also an insult, it's demeaning. It's saying, "You are not worth my time. You're an inferior person to me." That's what it's symbolizing here, both in reality and that time, but it's what it's symbolizing for us today.
And, so, here's what N.T. Wright says, "What's the answer? Hitting back only keeps the evil in circulation. Offering the other cheek implies, 'hit me again if you like, but now as an equal, not as an inferior.'" And you can imagine this scenario where you turn that other cheek in defiance, it's not to say, "Oh, sure, no problem. Yes, just keep hitting me, it's fine, you're fine, I'll just love you into change."
That is not the connotation there. There's a note of defiance in it. It's turning the other cheek to say, "Yes, I see, you can't hit me and, yes, that hurts. Yes, I don't like it, but you cannot take my dignity." There's a note of defiance in it, if you think about that. It's a way of standing your ground, of communicating, "You will not belittle me." It's countering bullying from a position of strength.
So, first of all, I want to pause here and say if you are someone who is actually being physically harmed, physically abused, in any relationship, there are several free crisis support numbers that I will link to in the show notes. They provide 24 hours a day, seven days a week free support. So please take advantage of these numbers. If you're experiencing any domestic abuse, for any reason, please reach out. So there is that literal piece of physical abuse.
But in many instances, we also find ourselves in these situations in maybe less literal ways where we're being emotionally or psychologically manipulated. Or just guilt tripped or harmed by someone who is really trying to demean, or belittle, or manipulate us in ways that are disempowering and in ways that call for very serious responses.
Imagine if someone came up to you at work or berated you publicly, and imagine you had the inner fortitude, the inner strength. The inner conviction to simply stand your ground, let them finish their diatribe, look them in the eye, not flinching and say, "Are you done now?" That's the connotation here.
Now, that's really hard to do, but there's power in that, that's not being a doormat. There's power in standing there and saying, "Mh-hmm, yes, you come at me with all you got and you cannot shake me because I am still standing here, and you might be able to scream at me. You might be able to use all these tactics and guess what? I am still showing up. I am still going to create. I am still going to use my voice. I am still going to live my life vibrantly because you cannot take that from me."
It's that kind of energy, and I see this all the time with people. Where these bullies come in, whether it's online, or whether it's in your community group, or whether it's in your church,
and people are talking behind your back or they're trying to take you down a peg or two. And it's painful, don't get me wrong, it's painful, and you need to get support, and you need to get a herd around you. You don't want to do this alone. You need to get people around you.
But this is the connotation of turn the other cheek. And, listen, it takes a minute to get there, there's no shame. Because we get hooked, we get hooked into the fight. We get hooked into the screaming match. We get hooked into the yelling match. We get hooked into trying to meet them on those petty terms. We get hooked into it, and there's no shame in that. Please hear me say that, there's no shame in that, this is a process.
But I'm trying to paint a picture for you of the goal because, I think, that's what Jesus is getting at here. It's so much deeper than just playing the doormat, it's so much deeper. It's standing there in your full power, in the face of your enemies. I think of David in the Psalms when he says, "You set a table for me before my enemies." And it's that kind of thing.
It's like, "Man, they're there. They're out there. They're gossiping about me. They're saying mean things behind my back. They're trying to take me down. They're criticizing me. They're trying to hurt me, and I'm sitting here, and I am just feasting on what the Lord has put in front of me. This banquet that He's placed in front of me. And, yes, I can see them, they're off in the distance there, those ones, my enemies, the ones who want to hurt me. But I'm here feasting because God is for me, and when God is for me, who can be against me." It's that kind of energy.
It's knowing, so deeply, that who you are is so important, and so valued, and matters so much to God that you can feast on the goodness of God in the face of your enemies, and that is a powerful weapon. That's what I want for you to understand today, as we talk about what it means to turn the other cheek.
I want you to begin to go, "You know what? I'm not fighting this battle on their terms anymore. That's their battle. That's their war. Those are their weapons, I got different weapons. And the weapons I have are the weapons of I am loved. The weapons of I have a God who anchors me, and that allows me to be shrewd.
That allows me to turn the other cheek and say, 'All right, you might win this stupid, petty battle over here, but I've got the victory, in my life, because I'm doing the work over here of healing my soul through therapy. I'm doing the work over here building up alliances with people who want to be good to each other. Who want to be kind to each other, Who love each other, and who are building beautiful spaces.
Where we speak truth, and we speak goodness, and we speak light, and we are creating more and more pockets of goodness, and that is our battleground. That is our battleground, and I'm finding other light-bearers who want to do that work with me. I'm telling my story in communities of people who have compassion, people who are of courage, that's brave work.'"
Next week, we're going to be talking to Curt Thompson about these confessional communities, where people come together in these groups.
Where we tell our stories honestly, bravely, in safe places, where we are heard, where we are seen, where we are loved. And as we do that work, there is no match for the power that we unleash in this world.
Turning the other cheek is not just taking the pain. It's saying, "You can harm me, but you cannot take my dignity. And I am going to start taking all of this energy that I've been letting you suck me dry with, and put it over here into the work of healing." It is not enabling someone. It's getting yourself out of a toxic situation with as least damage, to yourself, as possible.
For more practical, tactical ways to do that, go back and listen to those episodes in the Boundaries series. I'll link to them in the show notes. I go through practical scripts and tips in those episodes. But I want you to understand that is what turning the other cheek does not mean that you give somebody the best of who you are. It means that you turn your cheek in the other direction.
You know exactly what is happening and exactly how you feel about it, and that you will give exactly as little as possible, of your own best energy, to that situation anymore. You will be turning your energy into anchoring yourself in the support of health, of wholeness, of goodness. You will no longer let them take the best of who you are.
I want to turn here briefly to how you deal with some of these psychological forms, that we really need to address and not let people use against us. It could be anything from just someone who's constantly criticizing you to someone who's manipulating you. Where they're really trying to twist you or guilt trip you into doing something you don't want to do, and it's really subtle sometimes. "Well, okay, I guess if you don't really want to do that, I'll just suffer. It'll just be really hard for me, and I don't really feel like you're loving me."
You get that martyr complex from somebody when they're guilt tripping you or trying to manipulate you. That we might see in a parent or in a friend, where they're trying to get us to do something that we just don't really want to do in good conscience. All the way to this idea of gaslighting, where somebody is systematically trying to make you feel crazy. They're manipulating the truth and then going on the offense to put you on your heel, to put you on the defense.
For example, let's say if someone borrows your phone, and you catch them. Your phone isn't where you left it, and they've been using it, and they didn't return it to you, and you go to that person and you say, "Hey, you borrowed my phone can I get it back?"
And they're like, "I didn't borrow your phone, what's wrong with you? Why are you so paranoid? Why are you so controlling?" And, so, they've lied, first of all, they did borrow your phone or they did do the thing, and then they've also turned it against you as if to make you feel like you're crazy. Like, "Wait, what's wrong with me? Why am I this kind of person? Why am I a bad person?" It's this really insidious, toxic form of psychological abuse.
These types of behaviors from guilt tripping all the way down to gaslighting, if you think about that spectrum of toxicity, and a spectrum of unhealthy toxic behaviors.
Turning the other cheek can have a different nuance in each of these situations. It might mean simply refusing to respond, "You can try to guilt trip me, but the answer is still no. Good luck."
"Thanks, but no thanks, no."
All the way down to, literally, extracting yourself from the situation. Again, I go through more practical tactical scripts in episode 26, types of no. But today I want to paint this picture of the biblical foundation of what is going on there and I talk about this word a fool, that we see throughout the Bible. There are so many instances of this juxtaposing what a fool is and what a wise person is in the Bible, it's fascinating.
I did a very cursory word search of the NIV Bible because I was curious. Because, I think, there's so much in the Bible about being wise versus being a fool. So I did a cursory word search of the NIV Bible, and here are some numbers to put on that. So if you look for instances of the word wise or wisdom in the NIV Bible, it comes up 408 times. If you look for instances of the word foolish or fool, in the NIV Bible, it comes up 238 times.
By contrast, if you look for instances of the word hell, in the NIV Bible, it comes up 15 times. It's very interesting. There's a lot in the Bible about being wise versus being foolish. It's a really important topic, and what does that mean, to be wise? What does it mean to be wise? I think there's a lot in this whole thing of being a human. Being an image bearer on this earth, not just someone who is saved for heaven. But being an image bearer on this earth, that has to do with being wise.
Jesus says, "Be wise as the serpent and innocent as the dove." And if you think about what it is to be wise as a serpent, the serpent is close to the ground. He's in the weeds, he's on the dirt, he's in the muck, he's in it. And Jesus is saying, "Be wise in that way." You're in the dirt, you're in the muck, you're in the mess, you're in the world, be wise. And if you think about the dove, the dove is above it all. She's flying in the beautiful blue sky, she's pure, she's out of the muck, out of the noise, she's innocent, we need to be both.
We need to be wise in the muck and the mud, and innocent as the dove. Where we can soar above and be uncontaminated and set apart, it's both. This work of becoming a human, becoming an image bearer, becoming wise, in this life we have now, is a lot of both.
It's figuring out how to navigate the mud and the muck, and even as we figure out how to soar like that dove, we need both. Life involves both. We get those moments of soaring and we also have to figure out our way through the weeds and the muck. Wisdom comprises both. We have to learn how to do both.
And, so, when we think about this being wise as a serpent, it's going to involve some of this yuck, some of this toxicity, some of this gaslighting. Some of this psychological warfare, and in some cases, physical warfare against us, and we got to be shrewd through that. We see so much in the Bible about that.[00:33:57] < Music >
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So I want to give you a picture of what the Bible paints, about what it means to be a fool. Because there's a lot in the Bible about what it means to be a fool. Here's some of what the Bible says; "Fools care nothing for thoughtful discourse, all they do is run off at the mouth." That's from Proverbs 18:2.
"Fools are headstrong and do what they like." That's from Proverbs 12:15.
"Liars secretly hoard hatred, fools openly spread slander." Proverbs 10:18.
"The words of a fool starts fights." Proverbs 18:6
"Fools are headstrong and reckless." Proverbs 14:16.
"Fools leave a wake of wrecked lives and lies about God, turning their backs on the homeless, the hungry, and ignoring those dying of thirst in the streets." That's Isaiah 32:5-7.
Here's my summary of those verses, fools don't care about thoughtful discourse. Do we see this in our culture today? Do we see people really trying to engage thoughtful discourse? We used to use this phrase in graduate school, about complicated problems. And this wasn't from a secular graduate school, this is a concept from psychology.
Where we would talk about complicated problems are the kinds of problems about which reasonable people can reasonably disagree. Think about that for a minute. Complicated problems are those about which reasonable people can reasonably disagree. Most of life is complicated problems. It's complicated problems about which we have to learn to be reasonable people, who reasonably disagree.
This is what it means to be married. This is what it means to be a friend. This is what it means to be a church community. This is what it means to be a neighborhood.
This is what it means to be a nation. We have to come together as reasonable people, who can reasonably disagree. There's a lot of room for disagreement about a lot of problems.
Now, there are some problems about which we can't reasonably disagree, they're just wrong. But there's a lot about which we can reasonably disagree. There is so little of that that we see in our culture, in our world, in our neighborhoods, today. Fools don't care about thoughtful discourse.
Fools don't care about respecting others. Fools harbor bitterness, and lies, and gossip. Fools are more interested in starting fights than in really engaging dialogue. Fools are reckless, and fools do not care about the people who are hurting the most.
That's how we measure a fool, and that is not who we want to be. We need to not become fools, and we need to watch out for the fools. That's where you need to be shrewd, wise, when you're dealing with a fool. When you consider this idea of what it means to turn the other cheek, it doesn't mean letting a fool take advantage of you. It means being able to call out, "Oh, that's foolishness. That's just downright foolishness, I want no part of that."
"That's not what it means to be a child of God."
"That's not what it means to be a person who is wise, I want no part of that."
That's how you turn the other cheek when you spot a fool. You call it out for what it is, and you take no part in it. You get yourself away from it as fast as you can.
So number one, do everything you can, first and foremost, to not be a fool. Lesson number one is to not be a fool. Instead, you want to become someone who is wise. So what does that look like? What does it look like to become someone who is wise? Well, there's a couple of things I'm going to read for you from Scripture, some of these passages about what it looks like to be wise.
"Escape quickly from the company of fools, they're a waste of your time, a waste of your words." That's Proverbs 14:7.
"Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words." Proverbs 23:9.
"Don't respond to the stupidity of a fool, you'll only look foolish yourself. Answer a fool in simple terms, so he doesn't get a swelled head." Proverbs 26:4-5. There's so much wisdom in these passages.
Here is more, "Fools are undone by their big mouths. Their souls are crushed by their words." Proverbs 18:7.
"The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others, ignoring God, harvests a crop of weeds. All he'll have to show for his life is weeds." Galatians 6:7.
"A fool lets it all hang out. A sage quietly mulls it over." Proverbs 29:11.
So there's sort of a picture here we're arriving at. How do we respond to fools? Well, number one, we call out fools when we see them. We start to identify them. We want no part of them.
Number two, we limit our words and our interactions with them. Less is more, when it comes to communicating with someone who is a fool. We don't play the word game with them. We, number one, won't win because that's what they're good at. And, number two, we just don't have the time of day for that. It's not worth our time. We resist attempts to explain ourselves or get them to understand. Our actions speak louder than our words when it comes to the fool.
And then the other thing that we get at is we let the foolish person suffer his or her own consequences, and this can be challenging. But there is a way in which, the Scripture is teaching, fools are going to take themselves out, at a given point. They're going to bury themselves in their own rubble.
And, so, one of the most loving things you can do is just quarantine the fool. Keep yourselves away from them so that they're not harming you. Neutralize them and then let them burn themselves out, and this can be hard if you're somebody who's empathetic, you want to save the person. But if they've consistently shown a pattern of trying to harm you, there's a lesson here for us, of just walking away from foolishness and allowing them to suffer the consequences that they actually need to suffer.
There's a way in which you can stay anchored in your own integrity and then you reach for another strategy of the wise. And I'm going to read you a couple more Scriptures here. "Wise people take wise advice." Proverbs 12:15.
"You become wise by walking with the wise. You hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces." Proverbs 13:20 to become someone who knows how to turn the other cheek in wise, strong, powerful ways, you first have to be able to identify the fool, the gaslighter, the manipulator, the gossiper, the bullier. The one who's just trying to create ruckus, and create noise, and create harm, and to create chaos, and to undermine people, and to harm people. That's all they got, and it can hurt.
It can hurt, don't get me wrong, it really can hurt. But the first step is just to go, "Oh, that's what this is. I see you, I see the game you're playing, and I'm not playing that game with you." Number one.
Number two, it's to get yourself away from it, to quarantine it as best you can. To let them suffer their own consequences. You do not have to be the one to take them down. That's what it means to turn the other cheek. You don't engage in the battle on their terms because you won't win on their terms. But you turn that other cheek and go, "Oh, I see what you're doing. Uh-uh, no, I'm not playing that game with you. I'm not fighting fire with fire."
And, number three, instead, "I am going to go surround myself with other people who are interested in becoming wise. Who are interested in building good things. Who are interested in using their power for good." Those people are out there, I promise you, they are.
And stay tuned for our next series, starting next week, because we're going to talk all about how to find them. But those people are there.
And, so, if you want to turn the other cheek, you stop messing around with those fools, and you start anchoring yourself in your own dignity, and you start finding those other people to align yourself with. In standing on the truth of what it means to be wise in this world, God has called us to be innocent and to be wise. In this world God has called us and equipped us to live in with integrity, with conviction, with courage, with confidence, knowing that we have the God of all goodness, of all truth, of all strength on our side.[00:09:09] < Outro >
Thank you for joining me for this week's episode of The Best of You. It would mean so much if you take a moment to subscribe. You can go to apple, Spotify, Amazon Music, or wherever you listen to podcasts and click the Plus or Follow button. That will ensure you don't miss an episode and it helps get the word out to others. While you're there, I'd love it if you'd leave your five-star review. I look forward to seeing you back here next Thursday. And remember, as you become the best of who you are, you honor God, you heal others, and you stay true to your God-given self.
Matthew 5:38-39 – "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also."
Proverbs 18:2 – "Fools care nothing for thoughtful discourse; all they do is run off at the mouth."
Proverbs 12:15 – "Fools are headstrong and do what they like; wise people take advice."
Proverbs 10:18 – "Liars secretly hoard hatred; fools openly spread slander."
Proverbs 18:6 – "The words of a fool start fights." Proverbs 18:6
Proverbs 14:16 – "Fools are headstrong and reckless."
Isaiah 32:5-7 – "For fools are fools and that’s that, thinking up new ways to do mischief. They leave a wake of wrecked lives and lies about GOD. Turning their backs on the homeless hungry, ignoring those dying of thirst in the streets. .'"
Proverbs 14:7 – "Escape quickly from the company of fools; they’re a waste of your time, a waste of your words. "
Proverbs 23:9 – "Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words."
Proverbs 26:4-5 – "Don't respond to the stupidity of a fool; you'll only look foolish yourself. "
Proverbs 18:7 – "Fools are undone by their big mouths; their souls are crushed by their words."
Galatians 6:7 – "The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds!"
Proverbs 29:11 – "A fool lets it all hang out; a sage quietly mulls it over."
Proverbs 12:15 – "Wise people take wise advice."
Proverbs 13:20 – "Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces."
Matthew for Everyone by N.T. Wright
7th June 2023