I can only imagine the mixed reactions within the crowd as Jesus began to preach this “new” message which seemed to be in conflict with those of the other teachers (of the law). Here is an excerpt from that well known discourse titled “Sermon on the Mount,” which is recorded in the book of Matthew, chapter 5.
“…You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment…You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart…“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also…“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…”
I am pretty sure that some of them were perplexed and others were confused, but the majority were most likely in plain awe as they listened to this prophet’s captivating and heart-piercing words. Some may have even asked themselves whether or not it was possible to live up to these challenging standards. Among all the seemingly unorthodox things that Jesus taught them on that day, the two most difficult to follow/swallow must have been: 1) “Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matt. 5:44) and 2) “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.” (Matt. 5:41). That’s simply because forgiving and blessing those who hurt us as well as doing more than what we are expected to is contrary to human nature.
Of the many biblical and practical lessons I have taught my children, “going the extra mile” is one of them, especially since the Bible teaches us that, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people.“ (Col. 3:23). Going the extra mile in whatever we do is a sign of both selflessness and excellence. It is something that is developed not only from witnessing it during one’s childhood years, but also as a result of emotional, practical, and spiritual maturity. If done with the right attitude and motive, it can leave a huge impact on people’s lives. That is why I believe it’s a call of duty that every Christ follower should be known for.
Here is an adaptation of a story found in the Jewish Talmud. Perhaps it can help us understand how going the extra mile can truly make a difference.
A man was asked to paint a boat. He brought his paint and brushes and began to paint the boat a bright red, as the owner asked him. While painting, he noticed a small hole in the hull, and quietly repaired it. When he finished painting, he received his money and left. The next day, the owner of the boat came to the painter and presented him with a nice check, much higher than the payment for painting. The painter was surprised and said “You've already paid me for painting the boat Sir!” “But this is not for the paint job. It's for repairing the hole in the boat.” “Ah! But it was such a small service... certainly it's not worth paying me such a high amount for something so insignificant.” “My dear friend, you do not understand. Let me tell you what happened: “When I asked you to paint the boat, I forgot to mention the hole.“When the boat dried, my kids took the boat and went on a fishing trip. “They did not know that there was a hole. I was not at home at that time. “When I returned and noticed they had taken the boat, I was desperate because I remembered that the boat had a hole. “Imagine my relief and joy when I saw them returning from fishing. “Then, I examined the boat and found that you had repaired the hole! “You see, now, what you did? You saved the life of my children! I do not have enough money to pay your 'small' good deed.”
No matter where we are, we must purpose in our hearts to do more than what we’ve be asked or paid to do and definitely more than just bless people verbally. As men and women who have experienced the selfless, sacrificial, and generous grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, we should willingly and joyfully go above and beyond when working, ministering, or helping others.
Let us never forget, “…what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1). And that He, who is able to bless us with far more than what we could ever imagine (Ephesians 3:20), “… has raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might display the surpassing riches of His grace, demonstrated by His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:6-7).
So, let us keep our eyes, ears, and hearts open to repair all the “leaks” we may find while engaging in our daily activities. For in doing so, we can be used of God to save many lives. Perhaps your life has been saved because someone went the extra mile for you. If so, do the same!
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…”Matthew 7:12
“Going the extra mile is about love; it’s a passionate obsession with excellence. It is the result of good intention, uncompromising standards, sincere effort, intelligent design, attention to detail and skillful execution.”— Gary Ryan Blair