The Second Mile

And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Matthew 5:41 ESV

I was asked for a ride the other day.  I was happy to help, and off we went.  I thought I was only taking them home, but they asked if we could stop by the store.  So I sat in the parking lot and waited.  Back on the road, they asked for another stop before we reached the final destination.  I sat in the driveway of an unfamiliar neighborhood and waited.  As I sat there, I grumbled.  I heaved sighs.  Fidgeted and made faces as I sat in the car.  When they finally emerged, I was more than ready to go.  When I left them at their house I had spent over an hour of my time with what I thought would only have been 15 minutes tops.  I fussed all the way home.

You may say, “Well, I don’t blame you for being upset, that person was taking advantage of you.”  However, Jesus has a different point of view.

In the sermon on the mount, (Matthew 5), Jesus outlines how we that claim to be his followers should behave in humility, meekness and kindness, especially to our enemies. In verse 41, “And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles,” Jesus is referring to a law that the Jews and any occupied people of the Romans had to comply.  A Roman soldier could force any subject to carry his baggage, or anything else for up to one Roman mile (1,000 paces), and the person could not refuse.  Refusal meant grievous punishment.  It was especially humiliating for the Jew.  They hated Romans and suffered under their thumb.  To willingly summit and then freely give more than what was required would have been hard to swallow, to say the least. 

So why did Jesus say to go that second mile?  

As a Christian just doing what is required or acceptable is not enough.  Anyone can fulfill the requirements making sure not to inconvenience themselves.  However, as  Christians, we should be willing and eager to extend ourselves that second mile.  Whether it is giving a ride, taking on another task at work, letting a car in front of us, or stopping to say good morning, Christian should consistently be not just meeting but exceeding the acceptable bar.  We should be willing to give of ourselves to others as Christ gave His very life for us. 

Never settle for the requirement only, but strive to exceed the expected everywhere, in relationships, at work, in school, and in your daily routine.  You represent the Savior of the world shouldn’t you be going the second mile to show the unsaved His love for them?

Is Your Heart a Clanging Cymbal to God?

 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  1 Corinthians 13:1

Scene: Walmart Super Center Saturday early afternoon.

Internal monologue: “Oh my gosh!  This woman is the human equivalent of a sloth!  What in the world is her issue? Just scan the stupid thing, how hard is that?  Just pass it over the stupid scanner! That scanner laser hit her in the eye one too many times!  For saint’s sake! No! I do not care that you think the other brand is better and that your aunt swears by it! OH if she doesn’t get her butt in gear I’m coming across this counter and give her ring up 101!  I could scream and if that woman on the next counter doesn’t stick a passie in that brat’s mouth! I’m gonna put my fist in hers! UGH! I’ve got too much to do than to put up with this! Just ring up the …..”

     On the outside, I was smiling, nodding and behaving in a civilized and proper fashion.  However, on the inside, I was in a full-blown tirade and it continued to escalate into an insult, parentage questioning harangue.  You may be saying, “well good for you for not exploding on the woman”.  “Good for you for keeping it together” but, God was not as impressed. 

 Recently, for a previous class, I read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5)  and in my current class I am reading the book by John Stott, “Basic Christianity.”  These two resources brought an awareness to me that somehow I had allowed to remain unexplored.  

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,  anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.  (Matthew 5:21-22)

I was just as guilty as if I had begun shouting and berating this woman out loud when I allowed my thoughts to run on and on with angry insults internally.  We judge each other and ourselves by what we observe on the outside, but God judges the heart. Let me tell you, that Saturday morning, my heart was black as coal.  Throughout the Bible we are taught to be in control and that control extends to your thoughts. Was I irritated and should that lady had attended to her child? Yes, I think so.  However, for me to allow those thoughts to take off was nothing more than fodder for my anger that extended throughout the day. Being angry was not my sin it was how I allowed myself to lose control and wallow in my aggravation. 

We as Christians are to not just be in control of our actions and words but our thoughts.  Yes, you will have thoughts and maybe an internal groan, but when you allow those thoughts to take over, you have lost control.  Or in my case, just gave over control.

God is looking and listening to your heart.  Does He like what He sees and hears? Christian behavior extends beyond what you let people see and it is more than outward action.  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:1:

  If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

Do not be a clanging cymbal. Instead, do not just temper your external words and actions but you internal as well.  Exercise as much restraint on the inside that you do on the outside.  

Typist for Jesus