Saturday, 3 February 2018

The extra mile

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. – Matthew 5.38-42

The Law was so clear. In some ways it was so self-satisfying. If somebody did something to you you could pay them back by doing the same to them.

That seems fair enough, doesn’t it?

Jesus though has something different to say. Jesus says ‘don’t respond to evil. If you are attacked be ready for more. If someone wants you coat give him your cloak as well. If someone asks you to go a mile with them, go two. If someone wants to borrow your stuff let them.

This is the birth of our phrase ‘be willing to go the extra mile.’

Christians, if we are going to make a difference, are never going to be able to just do the bare minimum. We are here to follow Christ’s example and Christ’s example was to serve. We need to always do more than what is to be expected be it at work, at home, at play, at church, or wherever else we are asked for help or to give a hand. We can’t do things with an attitude or with reluctance. If we can practically do it we do it and anything else we can do to improve the situation.

Let me close with an example of what this means. I was watching an episode of ‘Motorway Cops’ or a show like that. I don’t have any idea if these police were Christians, but what they did is a clear example of this ‘extra mile’ idea.

They stopped on a motorway because a car had been clipped and was undriveable. The driver was a WW2 veteran parachutist who was on his way to Belgium for a reunion and jump (yes, he was close to 90). It was going to be an extended visit.

He was crushed when the police told him he could not drive on. But then they decided to do something about it. The loaded all of his stuff into their police car and drove him to a nearby town to see about hiring a car. The place was obviously hesitant to hire a car to a 90 year old to take to Belgium for several weeks. The police stepped and talked this guy into hiring the car to the veteran and they took responsibility for any problems.

Then they loaded the guy’s car and gave him an escort to the ferry port where he made his ferry.

These guys had several chances to justifiably say ‘okay mate, we’ve done our bit, best of luck’ and kept going and going and going.

By the way, the veteran passed away among his friends in Belgium.

That challenged me. I wonder how far I would go to help someone. Would I go that extra mile?

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