Friday, March 23, 2012

Why “go the second mile”?

Today I was reading the Beattitudes and I ran across this verse.

And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. (Matt. 5:41)

I began pondering it, and now I think I finally understand the reason behind this commandment from Jesus and why it is in the Beattitudes. Jesus recognized that there would be times when we might be forced to give service. (I have heard that this commandment is based on the context of how Roman soldiers could and would force people to carry their gear while on the march.)

Again, Jesus knew there would be times when we’d be forced to serve, and Jesus knew being forced to serve would not help us spiritually, and it can even be bad for us if it causes resentment and animosity to arise in our hearts. But…. He knew if we do extra after having done the good we were forced to do, then it becomes of real benefit to us because that extra mile was something we chose to do. When service is our choice, it makes us a better person.

Going the extra mile doesn’t just bless us, it blesses the faceless other person who would have been compelled to go that second mile once you finished your first. It also allows your light to shine on the person who compels you to go the mile when they see you are willing to make your own choice to serve without being forced. It shows them there are people willing to serve of their own volition, and it can raise their estimation of the goodness of humanity.