If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. – Matthew 5:41
There is nothing that Jesus said that would have possibly frustrated Jews more than this verse right here. Romans could force Jews to carry their belongings for one mile. Jews hated the fact that they could. So what they would do is teach their children to count their steps that equaled exactly one mile. Nobody ever, ever went a single step further. Roman law required one mile, so that’s what they would give to the Romans.
Here we are starting a new school year. I’ve been back at it for a few days now. Students will start back later this week. One more time, we are in a sense “forced” to go to school, or to work. Sure, there are kids who love it, but there are also kids who’d rather do absolutely anything else. There are teachers who love it, and then there are those who are ONLY showing up because they need to get paid. I want you to think of this “having to show up” as the first mile. We have to do that.
Right here in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “go two miles.”
I believe it was a strategy to win the lost. It was a strategy that if every believer in Christ bought into, absolutely everyone who didn’t believe would say, “There is nobody like those Christians!” Imagine someone begrudgingly carrying a Roman Citizen’s stuff. Suppose that Roman citizen had one particular person he liked forcing. This person would count off the steps, hate every moment, seethe with hatred, and then drop the stuff on the ground and stomp off. They had fulfilled the minimum requirement. Now, one day, after encountering Jesus Christ, he remembers these words. The same Roman comes along and forces the first mile, but instead of some sort of sour, scoffing attitude, he smiles and says, “I’ll be glad to.” Then, after 5,280 feet, or 1,760 yards (a little math lesson for you students), instead of dropping it with their normal attitude, they just keep going.
This would absolutely astound the non-believing Roman citizen! It would show them something they’ve never seen before. It would compel them to ask, “Why?” At this point right here, you’ve earned the right to tell them about Christ. Now, you can tell them just how much He has worked in your own life and changed your attitude towards everything. You do NOT get to say, “I’m right, you’re wrong, you’re going to Hell.” This attitude of “I’m better than you because I believe something you don’t” has prevented a multitude of non-believers from ever becoming Christians. If you want to win the lost, do it by example. Eventually, they will have to ask why you are the way you are.
We have to go back to work. It is the first mile. Think about what it would look like for you to go above and beyond the minimum requirements, and go the extra mile. Then, when someone asks, return all the glory, honor, and praise to Him. Point them to Him. There is just no one like Him.