Would you say that your nerves are a little frayed these days? Perhaps your patience is running a bit thin? The past 18 months have been challenging for all of us. We may be having trouble just coping with the day-to-day activities. And then someone comes along and asks you to be patient a little while longer, to go the extra mile in showing kindness to those around you who are struggling too.
Where 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 us to pray for those who persecute us or to 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.
In these challenging days, I encourage you to think about what Jesus would do in your circumstances. And think about what He’s asked you to do.
“By this all people will know that you are My disciples: if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35 (NASB)