Sometimes you will hear someone say, "That company really went the extra mile." The phrase is also used to refer to people. The idea is that someone did something they did not have to do in order to make things right, or better for someone else. But the concept did not originate in a customer service policy manual. The phrase actually comes from the teachings of Jesus.
In fact, I think most of the time we misuse the phrase, "Go the extra mile." Certainly it can mean going above and beyond expectations in every area of life, but when Jesus taught the principle, it was to be applied to our interaction with our enemies. Here is an excerpt from a sermon Jesus preached...
"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to the one who asks you, and don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." (Matthew 5:38-42)
This is one of the hardest things Jesus ever taught. I'm sure He knew that. It would perhaps be easy to dismiss the directives if they came from me. After all, I haven't gone through the injustice you have. But no one experienced more injustice than the innocent and perfect Jesus Christ. He has never required anything of His followers that He Himself did not practice. Here is how I would have probably preached that, if it was my truth...
"You have heard it said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you, don't let anyone get away with your eye or tooth. Rather, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, you need to be more aware and avoid or block the slap. As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, pray that God will give you a better lawyer than the other guy. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, document it, and at the end of the mile, make him pay for your time. Give to the one who deserves it, and beware of the one who wants to borrow from you." (David 5:38-42)
We are born with a sense of justice. That's why we don't like it when the other kid takes our toy. But we are also born with a sinful nature, which is why we try to figure out how to destroy one of his toys while getting ours back. But as Christians, we don't have the option of hurting other people. We are to bend over backwards... turn the other cheek... settle without our day in court... and go the extra mile... HERE'S THE KICKER...
We aren't to do these things for our friends... which we would gladly do, right?!? We are to do these things for our enemies. YIKES! Really?!? Yes. Go the extra mile for someone who hates you and is trying to misuse you.
What about justice? God will take care of that? Trust me... He is keeping score. He knows how many times your cheek was slapped. He knows how many times you caved into false lawsuits. He knows how many shirts and coats you gave away. He knows how many miles you walked. He knows how many times you lent money to people who would not repay. He knows. He is keeping a running tab. One day the other person will be truly sorry and pay for their unjust actions.
But not today. Today, we treat our enemy as God has treated us. Jesus went on to say...
“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, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:43-48)
In slapping you on the first cheek, taking you to court to steal your shirt, forcing you to walk a path that is not yours, the other person proves whose child they are... they are of their father the Devil. When you turn to offer the other cheek, give them your coat with the shirt, and go the extra mile, you prove whose child you are. You are a child of God, and God always takes care of His children.
Today you will likely be forced to go a mile by someone you don't like. Go two miles with them. If you're like me... you need the exercise anyway. The second mile is always the hardest, until you realize that Jesus is walking it with because He already knows the way. In fact... He is the Way.
My name is David, and I want to know God more, and help other people find Him.