Go the Extra Mile

Simon of CyreneWhere did the phrase “go the extra mile” come from? Actually, it refers to the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:41 Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.

In this passage, Jesus was referring to a Roman law called angareia. According to this law, a Roman soldier had the right to force a civilian to carry the soldier’s packs for a mile. Their packs could weigh nearly 70 lbs. so it was no small thing to be drafted for this duty. This law was also used when a soldier enlisted Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross for Jesus. But they could not demand more than a mile. That would be a crime against Rome.

Jesus said to go the extra mile. No one would expect someone to go to all that extra trouble. No one but Jesus.

Why did Jesus say we should be willing to go two miles if we are forced to go one? Why would he want us to go out of our way like that? It show’s the heart of Jesus. Being willing to go above and beyond what is required or expected. Being willing to do something beyond what is deserved. Being willing to show kindness to someone who may have treated you wrongly. In fact, perhaps the act of kindness would be directed toward your  worst enemy.

In what ways have you experienced someone going the extra mile for you? How did it make you feel? If we do a kindness to someone not based on whether they deserve it, we open the door for the power of God to take over.

No one really expects that we pray for those who persecute us or that we show love to our enemies. No one except Jesus. He asks us to go above and beyond. He asks us to go the extra mile.

The Sharpest Knife in the Drawer

Have you ever tried to cut a tomato with a dull knife? It can be a frustrating experience. When you are trying to prepare a meal, there is nothing more exasperating that working with a knife that needs sharpening. It’s inefficient. It slows you down. It simply cannot do the job it was designed to do without being sharpened once in a while.

Scripture tells us that we are like that dull knife. We need to be sharpened regularly. How does this happen? God designed us to sharpen each other.

Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

It has been said that iron cannot sharpen iron because they are both the same substance so they are unable to sharp each other. In order to be sharpened, one substance must be stronger than the other. Could it be that we take turns being strong depending on which of us needs sharpening in a given circumstance? I think so.

Do you have people who rub up against your life and sharpen you? I do. Those people are a vital part of my everyday life. They  are necessary if I am to keep from becoming the dullest knife in the drawer. If I am to be useful for God’s kingdom, I have to be sharp. When metal rubs up against metal it also shines more. I need to be able to shine for others to see. I need to have a sharp and clean edge so I am useful to God.

To be sharpened in this way we must become vulnerable. We must allow someone to come close enough to touch our lives. We must be willing to feel a little uncomfortable when we experience a bit of friction as our edge is honed.

But it’s well worth it.  Find others who are willing to sharpen you when you need it. You will be made more useful to our Lord. You will be the knife he reaches for when he has a job to do because He knows you are one of the sharpest knives in the drawer.

Do You Have a BFF?

Have you ever had a friend that knew you so well they could anticipate what you were thinking? Were they even able to finish your sentences because they knew what you were going to say? In some social circles, that person would be called your BFF (Best Friend Forever).

Or maybe your son or daughter planned to ask you for something but you had already anticipated their request and arranged to fulfill it even before they asked. Because you love them so much, you want to take care of them, to surprise them, to make them smile.

There is someone who knows you that intimately. Who knows your thoughts and knows what you need. Your Heavenly Father begins to answer your prayers even before you speak them. He is so tuned in to what you are thinking that He can finish your sentence while you are still speaking. He loves you that much.

Isaiah 65:24 It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.

Go ahead and tell Him what’s in your heart and on your mind. He’s listening.

Do You Want to Play the Glad Game?

Are you a Pollyanna? I am.

Pollyanna is a character of a classic children’s book by Eleanor  H. Porter. She is continually playing the “glad game.” In this game she faces every circumstance with the belief that there must be something to be glad about if you look long enough. In the story, the adults get annoyed with her constantly optimistic view of life. In fact, that annoyance continues today. The dictionary actually has a definition for a Pollyanna.

Pollyanna: an excessively or blindly optimistic person. To be unreasonably or illogically optimistic.

But I think she had it right. One of the quotes from the book says, ” if God took the trouble to tell us eight hundred times to be glad and rejoice, He must want us to do it SOME.” Now I have never counted to see if she was right about there being eight hundred verses telling us to be glad. But do we really need that many?

Here are a few that should confirm His desire for us to be glad.

Psalm 68:3 But let the righteous be glad; let them exult before God; Yes, let them rejoice with gladness.

Psalm 90:14 O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Psalm 104:34 Let my meditation be pleasing to Him; As for me, I shall be glad in the LORD.

So, I don’t know about you, but I don’t mind in the least if I am called a Pollyanna. In these days that we are living, it is so easy to get discouraged. Reading the news, hearing what others are struggling with on a daily basis, how can we possibly be glad? It certainly looks excessive or unreasonable, even illogical to think that we could be glad in the midst of what is going on around us every day. But God says we are to be glad. Why?

Because God is still on His throne.

Psalm 92:4 For You, O LORD, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands.