Extra Mile Attitude

Jesus was an "and then some" kind of guy. In fact, he created the whole idea of doing more than is required, of going the extra mile. In Matthew 5, he is preaching his Sermon on the Mount when he shocks the crowd with the statement he makes in verse forty-one.

"If someone forces you to go one mile, go with them two."

When Jesus makes this statement he is referring to a specific custom. The custom doesn't have a specific name, but was adopted by Rome from an old Persian custom. Any Roman could force any Jew to carry their bags for them at any given time. The custom was to have the "baggage carrier" do this for one mile. (one thousand paces in that day) The Jews hated this. They would do it, of course, because they had no choice, but never more than what was required. I imagine they counted every step of those one thousand paces. In fact, this custom was being enforced when the Roman forced Simon to carry the cross of Christ. Simon was acting as Jesus' "baggage carrier", if you will. 

So, here we have a custom that the Jews despise, and Jesus has just said, "when you are forced to go one mile, offer to go two miles". The crowd probably grumbled and maybe some even yelled out in disbelief that Jesus would suggest such a thing. Intriguing, isn't it? 

The "extra mile attitude" is all about submission. The verse actually uses the word "force", implying that submission is required, not suggested. Jesus is saying we should submit ourselves even further than the requirement. 

"Don't just carry their bags one mile, carry them two!" 

I wonder, do I have the "extra mile attitude?" Not always, I know. There are plenty of moments when I do only what is required to get by. Can you imagine the face of a proud, mighty Roman soldier, when that Jewish man offers to keep walking, keep carrying his bags? I would have loved to see that happen for the first time! 

The truth is, we can all do what is required, and we can do it without a happy heart. But, to go beyond the requirement, to offer more than is expected, well, our heart has to want to do that, doesn't it? Going the extra mile is the thing that sets us apart from the world. Going the extra mile is proof that we really do care. 

I want to have the "extra mile attitude". I want to look for opportunities to show Christ's love by giving more than is expected. What if we, as believers, started an "extra mile movement"? What if, today, each of us chose to go above and beyond? What if we did it in the name of Jesus? The results would be astounding.

Let's do it folk! Let's look for ways to give more and be more so that others will know Jesus is alive and well and living in us.

"If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow." Matthew 5:41-42


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