A Higher Way, Part III

And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.  Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

Matthew 5:41-42

As we continue to look at these hard-to-follow verses dealing Jesus’ higher level of righteousness, we come to the “go the extra mile” verse.  I always find it interesting when I find the root of a common phrase in the Bible.  It is interesting just how much God’s Word has influenced our entire society, even down to the language we use.

I do not know how true this is, but I have read that, in the Roman Empire, private citizens could be conscripted into “postal” service.  They could be “compelled” to carry whatever was needing delivered for a mile.  This was obviously a hassle and an inconvenience for those thus conscripted.  It would be like coming out of your house to run an errand and being forced to deliver all the mail on your street before you could go on.  People didn’t like doing this, and likely complied with a less than perfect attitude.  However, in light of this being an annoyance and a great inconvenience, Jesus again told His followers to follow a higher way.

The “law” would say to go the mile that you are compelled.  At that point, you have done your duty and are free from the responsibility.  But Jesus says to go further.  If you are compelled for one mile, go two (and do it with a good attitude).  If someone asks you to do something, do more than is technically required.

How often have we been “compelled” to do something annoying or inconvenient, and have fulfilled our duty but nothing more?  How often have we really “gone the extra mile?”  The next time we are inconvenienced by someone, let us remember the words of our Lord and let us consider His exhortation to “go the extra mile.”

4 responses to this post.

  1. I love these verses and your thoughts on them Ben! God is calling me certainly to a higher level of caring in the ministry He has entrusted to me. Do you have any tips on how to draw the healthy line between good boundaries and Christian charity?


    • That’s what I’ve been struggling with too. I think that it’s mainly a case of needing wisdom from the Holy Spirit in each situation. I’m beginning to think that this kind of charity is more of an attitude. I’ve seen it other Christians – their first thought when confronted with anything is to help the other person, even if it inconveniences them. They can’t do everything and they can’t give to every person and cause, but their heart is clearly focused on giving and not receiving/keeping. That would make a good study that I’m going to have to do!


  2. This is really so good. It reminds me of Him telling me that He expects me to have a right heart attitude. I’m also listening to what Pastor J asked . . .because that is something to be considered. God bless you as you go on and on with Him!


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