ODJ: Go the Extra Mile

March 23, 2016 

READ: Matthew 5:38-48 

If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles (v.41).

Three boys hatched a plan to earn enough money to buy their own brand-new bicycles. Their strategy was to call around their neighborhood, offering to do yard work or run an errand in exchange for a small amount of cash.

KROSS, the company that manufactures the bikes the boys had their eye on, got wind of their plan. Their hardworking initiative so impressed KROSS that they surprised each boy with a free bike! Those in the world of customer service call this “going the extra mile.”

“Going the extra mile” is a popular phrase that stems from the teachings of Jesus: “If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles” (Matthew 5:41).

Jesus’ statement is often understood as a call to go beyond what’s expected. But originally there was much more to it. It was a challenge to show love instead of taking personal vengeance.

Back in Jesus’ day, Roman soldiers could lawfully force able-bodied civilians to carry their gear (which could weigh upwards of 100 pounds) for one mile. It was unfair, inconvenient, and often backbreaking. Jesus encouraged His followers to respond in a new and unexpected way, one that would reflect the generous love of God’s kingdom instead of unlawful resistance (v.39) or revenge.

Carrying a soldier’s pack a second mile might seem outrageous, but that’s often what it takes to turn the tables lovingly on our enemies. It’s a powerful and hopeful way to respond, one that reflects the new life of God’s coming kingdom. And it’s one of countless ways to emulate the gracious love of our “Father in heaven” (vv.45,48). Today, perhaps God will use your extra-mile efforts to help others see what His outrageous love is all about.

—Jeff Olson

365-day-plan: 1 Samuel 9:1-21

Check out how the apostle Paul’s teaching on revenge mirrors Jesus’ instruction by reading Romans 12:17-21. 
Is someone treating you unfairly? What is one way you could lovingly respond that’s so outrageously different that the offenders will see Jesus?