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

Jesus is speaking to a common annoyance among the people of His time. Under Roman law, soldiers could commandeer ordinary citizens into carrying their burdens for the distance of one mile. They had no choice. One mile was the obligation. No more. No less.

Jesus challenged His followers to “go the extra mile.” That’s a term that has permeated the vernacular of our culture. “Extra mile service,” Extra Mile books, Extra Mile seminars, and Chevron even has “ExtraMile” stores.

The first mile was out of obligation. There was no choice. The second mile was unexpected. Just when the soldier would expect the citizen to carelessly drop the burden on the ground, the citizen takes the next step into the second mile and continues on. Maybe the soldier thought he had a dumb citizen who couldn’t calculate mileage. Would the soldier just have let this go or would he have reminded the citizen that he didn’t need to carry it further?

What is Mile One in your life? Working an eight-, ten-, twelve-hour day? Maintaining a home? Teaching lessons to a class? Reaching a quota? Writing five devotionals and a small group leaders’ blog? What is that first mile?

Now, where does the extra mile take you? Maybe it’s doubling your efforts. Maybe it’s not. Maybe the extra mile is not just putting in the hours and doing the work. The extra mile is caring about the work as if it was your own, as if you were working for God (Colossians 3:23). Maybe the extra mile is caring about your co-workers and your boss. How are they doing? Where do they need help?

Maybe the extra mile is giving when you have nothing to gain. Jesus’ followers weren’t going to become all buddy-buddy with Roman soldiers. But, Jesus directed them to help people and to expect nothing in return.

If you are completely irritated by this devotional today, then I would challenge you to take Jesus’ words right back to Jesus. “Jesus, You are telling me to go the extra mile when I don’t even feel like going the first mile. Do you know what I have to deal with at work, home, (fill in the blank)? If You want me to develop this extra mile attitude, then You need to do a work in me. I can’t do this on my own and maintain it.” Then, wait and see what happens next.

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