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If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Matthew 5:41

During the time of Jesus’ ministry on earth, Roman soldiers were on nearly every corner. These mighty warriors would travel from town to own bearing heavy armor and keeping order in the country. According to Roman law a soldier could randomly choose anyone to carry his shield and other equipment for one mile. Penalty for refusal to do so was death.

Today, we use this phrase in an almost heroic fashion. “Be a good person. Reach out to those who are down. Give them an extra smile or an extra tip. Let them in front of you in traffic, etc. However, in Bible days ‘going that extra mile’ had a far greater meaning. The Jewish people hated the Romans for occupying their country. They were considered the lowest of the low and for good reason. Roman soldiers weren’t known for good morals, honesty or kindness. Being forced to carry their luggage for even one mile was humiliating, time consuming and sometimes painful.

When Jesus asks us to ‘go that extra mile’ He is asking us to step completely out of our comfort zone and do something unheard of for someone who is completely undeserving and most likely ungrateful. Those who went that extra mile were rarely thanked by the Romans and most likely taunted by Jewish countrymen.

Here are some tips for ‘going that extra mile’ in our lives today:

Þ    Have a firm grasp of who you are. When you do something that others may see as humiliating and you have a firm grasp of who you are in Christ, going that extra mile becomes ministry and not drudgery. You are a child of the Living God! Nothing anyone can do to you will change your status in Him.

Þ    Minutes Not Hours. Going the extra mile is based on the needs of those around us, not on what is convenient for you. Jewish citizens had no choice but to drop everything to accommodate the Roman Soldiers. Make the needs of others around you so important that whatever you are doing can wait.

Þ    Be willing to step out of your comfort zone. The people who need us the most are not usually the wealthy, well-respected citizens in town. They are the abusers, the addicts, and the irresponsible people of questionable character. Are you willing to sit down for a cup of coffee with the person in town with the worst reputation? Jesus did…and would.

Þ    It’s not necessarily a two-way street. On occasion, if you go the extra mile, you will win over a new friend, but that isn’t likely. Reaching out to people in need can often be completely expected, ignored or unappreciated.

Jesus message is the same regardless. Reach out to those in need. Go above and beyond what is expected. Christ-followers must be willing to be inconvenienced and take the risk of being taken advantage of. Be more concerned about what you are doing in Jesus name than how you look to others. Be willing to go the extra mile in Jesus name.

PRAYER: Father God, I ask that today you would show me people in my life who need your touch. Help me to look past the exterior, unpleasantness of their situation to see a heart in need of your love. Empower me with wisdom, strength and confidence to put their needs first so that I can show them the love of Jesus in action. I thank you in advance for Your blessing. Amen.

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