The expression “the extra mile” refers to acts of service done to others that go above and beyond what is ordinarily required or expected.” The expression is embedded in the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus declared: “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles” (Matthew 5:41)
In Jesus’s day, a Roman soldier could come to you at any time and tap you on the shoulder with his spear. You then would be required by law to carry his armor or baggage for up to one mile. But Jesus says when that happens, blow his mind – go with him two miles. In other words, do what is legally required plus an ‘extra mile’.
THE PRINCIPLE OF THE EXTRA MILE
The principle of the extra mile can be broadly categorized into three levels….
A. The hellish level that returns evil for good. Some people are hell-bent on doing evil against you, even when you keep doing good to them. Admonition: Keep doing good. Luke 6:27-28 “But I tell you who hear me: “Love your enemies; do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
B. The human level that returns good for good and bad for bad. Naturally, we tend to do good to those who do good to us and those who do bad to us receive an equal measure, if not worse. Admonition: the extra mile calls for a radical shift. Luke 6:32-34 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that.
Luke 6:34 . And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full.”
C. The heavenly level that returns good no matter what. Going the extra mile requires intentional thought and action in going against normal practice. Luke 6:35 “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”
THE PRACTICE OF THE EXTRA MILE
Going the extra mile is an invitation to go beyond the various natural expectations in daily living. It’s the call to go….
A. Beyond Vengeance. We should expect to be wronged once in a while but it is not in our place to take revenge. Romans 12:19 “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.”
B. Beyond Retaliation and Payment. If offended, do not offend in return. If injured, do not inflict injury. In other words, take the higher way. Jesus has a prescription for a heart of retaliation. Matthew 5:38- 39 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Note: The “eye for an eye rule” was given to regulate decisions of judges in Moses’s time. They were to take an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, and to inflict burning for burning. But instead of confining it to magistrates, the Jews had extended it to private conduct, and made it the rule by which to take revenge.
The believer’s life and relationships should be governed by higher principles rather than legal prescriptions. Take the higher way…
C. Beyond Litigation and Entitlement. The extra mile principle encourages out of court settlements even if it may appear justified to go to court. Matthew 5:40 “And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well”.
D. Beyond Obligation. Whereas the first mile was an obligation required by Roman law, the second mile was an opportunity to demonstrate the love of God. Matthew 5:41 “If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”
HOW CAN WE PRACTICE THE EXTRA MILE?
This principle can be expressed in several ways in practical Christian living. It is an expression of overflowing love and an invitation to embrace various virtues of love.
A. Embrace Generosity and Benevolence. Jesus prescribes generosity as an antidote to feelings of vengeance and retaliation, which are rooted in selfishness. Matthew 5:42 “Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.” Luke 6:30 “Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back.”
Note: The discipleship challenge is to go the extra mile in giving of our time, talents and treasure in serving God and one another.
B. Embrace unlimited Charity and Hospitality. Jesus invites us to love without limits- to show unconditional positive regard for all people Matthew 5 :46 – 47 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
Note: Opportunities abound for us to go the extra mile. E.g at school, at work, at home, in raising our children, or in dealing with each other: make the most of these.
Going the extra mile reflects the higher standards of God’s law: that of truly loving God and others. This is the attitude that will make our righteousness surpass that of the Scribes and Pharisees.
WHAT IS THE POWER OF THE EXTRA MILE?
Going the extra mile produces amazing impact in our relationships and Christian witness. Romans 12: 20 “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Going the extra mile….
A. Guarantees the transformation of our attitudes. Matthew 5:43 -44 “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.”
Going the extra mile….
B .Leads to success and great rewards. Luke 6:35 “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”
Note: It’s given that the reason many people remain unsuccessful in their life’s pursuits such as career development is because they are first milers. Employers the world over tend to promote or reward second milers – people who go beyond the call of duty.
Going the extra mile….
C. Is the key to better relationships. 1 Peter 4:8-9 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
Going the extra mile….
D. Is a demonstration of meekness. Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth”.
Note: Going the extra mile is by no stretch of imagination an admonition to be a doormat but a challenge to demonstrate power under self-control.
Following Christ requires that we go the extra mile! As followers of Jesus, we have a higher calling in life than seeking revenge, it is our prayer that Kenyans will go an extra mile and embrace peace.