Today’s Reading: Matthew 5:27-48 (additional reading: Psalm 6:1-10 & Proverbs 1:29-33)
The phase “going the second mile” has found its way into our modern jargon. Just about a decade before the birth of Jesus, the Roman senate had passed a law that read, “In any conquered province within the Roman Empire, soldiers may compel able bodied men to bear their burden one mile, but no more.” The Roman mile was 1000 paces or 1520 yards…a little shorter than the English mile. As you can imagine, this law caused terrible resentment among the Jews toward the Roman government. Can you imagine how the Jews felt when Jesus said, “go the second mile?” No doubt, the audience said, “He must be kidding – Does he really expect us to do more than the law requires us to do?” In essence, Jesus was saying that his disciples need to do more than the legalists who do no more than what is required of them.
No one likes to be made to do someone else’s work. At the very least, we are apt to complain – argue – or simply refuse to be so used. Yet if we call ourselves Christians, then we need to understand that we are required to live in the second mile. To love your neighbour is the first mile – to love your enemy is the second mile. To bless those who bless you is the first mile, – to bless those who curse you is the second mile. To do good to those who do good to you is the first mile – to do good to those who hate you is the second mile. Praying for those who pray for you is the first mile – praying for those who despitefully use you is the second mile.
The Pharisees lived in the first mile and Christians live in the second mile. But notice the wording that Jesus uses in text. He doesn’t say anything about a Roman Soldier. He says, “and whosoever shall compel thee.” To you and I today this would mean, “If a neighbour” or a “co-worker” or a “church member” would compel us to do a certain thing then we should do twice as much as they expect us to do.
What are the things that you do grudgingly? What are the thing that your doing which you think are unfair. We ought to be living in the second mile. Not only when we are made to do something but anytime we do anything. Always doing our best always doing more then what is required. Why? Because that is how Jesus lived and that is how He shines through us.