The Second Mile
Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:38-45
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
“and whoever shall force you to go one mile, go with him two.”
This seeming innocent sentence that was spoken by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, contains enough power to change the course of this world.
- In it is we see one of Jesus foundational principles for Abundant Living.
- Jesus describes the Christian religion as one which goes the 2nd mile.
The background and setting of this verse is very important in understanding the significance of what he is saying. Whenever the Roman empire conquered a new town or province, a symbolic Roman yoke was placed in the market place or in a prominent part of the city..They often made the people of that city pass under it in order to acknowledge their obedience to Rome As a conquered people whenever a Roman soldier or Roman official wanted you to carry his pack for a mile, or run an errand for a mile, or even guide him for a mile, you had to, you had no choice! It was part of Roman law (but just one mile). This was a humiliating experience, especially for the Jews who were a proud people.
It is said that Jews would have a mile markers placed all over so that they would not have to travel any further than they had to. Now with this in mind, consider who Jesus is speaking to as he said,
“and whoever shall force you to go one mile, go with him two.”
… They probably instantly thought of the Romans that occupied their land and how much they hated them. And as He said, “Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two”, they probably couldn’t believe their ears.… They probably clinched their fists and shook their heads wondering why in the world should they do anything extra for those Romans. I believe that Jesus deliberately used that obnoxious Roman rule as an illustration demonstrating a great principle for Christian living. As a master teacher they probably would not forget this principle because Jesus used this Roman rule as an illustration.
And what principle is that? What is the second mile all about? I believe that Jesus is teaching that as Christian, we are to do a little more than what is required, or even expected of us.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught how one can have a blessed life, or a full and abundant life. And here in this text He lets us know that part of having a full and blessed abundant life is making a point to practice this principle of going the second mile.
There are 4 observations about the second mile that are worthy of our attention today:
1. The Second mile always makes the one who travels it happier..
The great surgeon who always tied 3 knots in the thread after closing a wound. When asked by a younger Doctor why three when only one was required, the skilled surgeon told the younger that he call his knot his ‘sleeping knot’. When he wakes up in the middle of the night trying to remember if he had finished the procedure by tying a knot in the thread he can turn over and go back to sleep knowing that he had tied 3 knots instead of just one.
b) Imagine a young Jewish man being approached by a Roman soldier. The soldier called him and tells him to come and carry his pack. The Jewish man looks at him. He wishes he could hit the soldier with the hoe he is using. He slams down the hoe with an attitude but submits because he know he has to. He slowly drags himself over to the soldiers pack and picks it up and half carries it and half drags it for the mile. After going the mile he throws the soldiers pack down with an attitude and he start back to his house in a angry mood for the rest of the day.
- Now if you can imagine a different scenario of a young man who learned the principle of the 2nd mile from Jesus:
When approached by the soldier he willingly picks up his pack and carries it without complaining. While walking with the soldier he starts up a conversation and smiles and jokes as he walks. When he gets to the mile marker, he continues on. The soldier reminds him that he only has to carry his pack a mile but to the soldiers amazement the young man answers, “That’s OK, let’s walk on, I’ll take you to the edge of the city.” As he leaves the soldier he leaves walking with his head up, soldiers back and happy inside for having gone the second mile!
2. The Second Mile Calls for the best in others
a) You can’t possibly travel the 2nd mile like this without influencing others, or even affecting their lives. (Especially if you have a good attitude.)
b) The only way that we are going to influence some people for Jesus is by going the 2nd mile. (Husband-wives; Friend, neighbors, family)
Jesus said in Matt. 7:12
“So in everything, do to others what you have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
c) When you travel the 2nd mile for another, you call out the best in that person. You might not see it happen right away or even ever.
But the only way that we will ever influence some people to travel the 2nd mile with them first. (Click here to view video)
3. The 2nd Mile Lightens Life’s Burdens
The Christian philosophy is a philosophy full of Paradoxes.
- We get through giving
- We live by dying
- We become free by becoming a slave
- We are strong when we are weak
- Likewise, going the 2nd mile lightens our burden!
Imagine a home where everyone goes the 2nd mile
Imagine a church where everyone in the church family goes the 2nd mile.
Imagine a city, a country, a world where everyone goes the 2nd mile!
Life would become more pleasant for all. That’s the Christian way! We have to learn the lesson from Jesus that it’s not all about me and what I want!
Rather Jesus let’s us know that abundant life begins by serving and going the 2nd mile!
And if these reasons are not reasons enough to go the 2nd Mile, then consider that…
4. God went the 2nd Mile
“God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
When you go the 2nd mile out of love, you become like our Father above. God went the 2nd mile for us and I believe He wants us to be 2nd mile Christians
In John 15:13 before Jesus actually died for us, He said,
“Greater love has no one that this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”
And then Jesus Himself he went the 2nd mile for us.
Do you want to experience abundant life, and bring out the best in others, maybe even change your own personal perspective on life, and even change your world?
Then my challenge for you is to humble yourself and learn to go the second mile, go beyond what others demand and expect of you, and encourage others to do the same. If you have trouble motivating yourself, do it for Jesus. Do it because Jesus said that it is the best thing for us to do. Do it to help others. Do it knowing that maybe it will change another’s heart. Do it with a good attitude and with a smile your face. And when others ask why why you are doing it, tell them that you do it because that is what you have been taught your Lord.
Not only will you be blessed, but you will affect those around you.
I’ve heard members here say they want to see some great things happen here in this church:
- We want to evangelize and see the church grow.
- We want to reach out to our local community.
Let me tell you something, those things just don’t happen. But going 2nd mile for Jesus and for the people in this community will not go unnoticed and will have an effect. We all may have to get out of our comfort zone, and do more than what we normally do, maybe even give more than we have ever gave before.
But in doing so I believe we will feel blessed and you may even see the fruit of your efforts of going the 2nd mile. But it takes a humble heart, one that first of all love Jesus, and then loves others as He would have us. So I challenge you to apply this principle of going the second mile in as many areas of you life as you can.
For more lessons click on the following link: http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?page_id=566