The Second Mile

“And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.”

Matthew 5:41

Just before bed last night I was doing some reading and came across a quote that left me laughing myself to sleep. It said, "Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes. After that who cares?… He’s a mile away and you’ve got his shoes!” Ha! Immediately I thought of Jesus and one of His most well known teachings in all the Bible, “The Sermon on the Mount.” Have you wondered why in Jesus teaching up on the Mount of Beatitudes that He told His disciples if someone forces you to go with them one mile not to stop once you reach mile one, but keep going on to mile two with them on your own without being asked? Under Jewish law if a person was moving and had a lot of stuff to carry or was transporting a heavy load that would require additional help they could go to their Jewish neighbor and tell them they needed their assistance and their neighbor was compelled under the penalty of law to lend a hand even if they didn’t know their neighbor, like them or you had no desire whatsoever to get involved. The law had the final say and for good reason. It took all the emotions out of a decision not to mention the thinking.

In the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5 Jesus runs through a list of, “You have heard that it was said” meaning, “you have been taught or instructed” and then Jesus adds something onto the end of the law as if to amend it or in this case double it which would make it seemingly twice as hard. I express seemingly, as in reality when you do something under the law you don’t really have an option to obey without being penalized for failing to comply which most often removes any satisfaction or delight in obedience one might have felt. Yet, on the other hand, if at the end of the first mile where the law frees you to cease offering assistance and in your freedom you choose by an act of your own free will to keep helping your neighbor by going the extra mile you have really sent a message to your neighbor and most likely helped ease a tremendous burden. I like the saying, “Love always goes the extra mile” and it’s true.

If you have ever had to move from one house or apartment to another you know the pain of having to box up everything you own and then carry the items through entryways that seem almost impossible to pass through leaving you to wonder how and the heck you got the items through the door to begin with? Then you have to load all the items into some organized fashion into a vehicle for transport only to do the whole process in reverse once you arrive at the next destination. I personally loathe moving and I for sure don’t want to burden others to assist me when I do because I know how I feel myself about everything involved with relocating. And yet, every time I have had to move for whatever the reason, the Lord has provided a true friend who didn’t just go one mile with me, or even two as Jesus instructed His disciples. It’s an amazing show of Christ’s love when someone in essence says to us when we are feeling the weight or burden of life, “I’m with you for the long haul” as that is exactly what Jesus was implying in His teaching. Jesus was telling His disciples that to be a true follower of His we would need to be the kind of person who doesn’t just seek meet the minimum requirements regarding what is required by the law but would instead be the kind of people who just like Jesus, go as far as was need to go to get the job done.

When a person chooses to live their life by the grace of God going the second mile isn’t as difficult as most might think because every step taken after after mile one is done by our own free will. It’s much harder to do the things for others when we feel compelled to do them rather than when we are free to choose to serve others in love. The law, you could say wears a person out where on the other hand grace empowers us to do and accomplish more and to feel good in the process. Those who seek to be justified by the law soon find themselves lacking joy in their obedience compared to those who seek to go above and beyond the law by the grace that God provides in showing love and compassion to others resulting in a deep sense of satisfaction.

Try it today, loved one, go above and beyond what’s needed to get done in the grace and power that only God supplies. The evidence of God’s presence in your life will be witnessed as you will be able to do whatever is needed with joy and without murmuring, back biting, and complaining. And best of all, you will be serving like Jesus serves you and communicating to others by both your attitude and words and actions that you too are walking in grace and in it for the long haul.

“But Ruth said: "Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me."

Ruth 1:16-17


Michael Osthimer




no categories


no tags