February 22, 2016

Matthew 5:41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.

These words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount are where the expression “going the extra mile” comes from. We usually use it to refer to someone who does more than what is required, who gives that 110% to a task or cause. Jesus was referring to the practice of the Romans in the first century whereby a soldier of the Empire could require an ordinary citizen to carry the soldiers pack or other items for one mile. You are out doing your errands around town when a group of soldiers goes by. One of them says, “Hey You!” You say, “Who Me?” He says, “Yes You. Take this load I’ve got and carry it down the road a mile” and by law you have to do it. How are you feeling? Your plans are shot. Even if you are in pretty good shape this side venture is going to be tiring. You’ve been reduced to the status of a pack animal. But Jesus says you should not only do what you must under the law (and to keep from getting abused by the soldiers) but that you should voluntarily continue for another mile. Why? In the first mile you are a temporary slave. In the second you are a free person showing the nature of God who, as Jesus will declare a few verses later, “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45). Going the extra mile isn’t about extorting extra effort to excel at your own endeavors. It’s about responding to those who would degrade and take advantage of you with graciousness and kindness. This week, where will you be called on to go an extra mile?

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