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What Does it Mean to “Go the Extra Mile”?

Let’s read Christ’s specific instruction:

“If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”

Matthew 5:41

At that time the Holy Land was under Roman control and Roman soldiers, who walked everywhere, were permitted by law to enlist non-citizens to carry their packs or equipment, but the limit was one Roman mile, which is close to the length of a contemporary mile. So why did the Messiah encourage his disciples to go an extra mile carrying the baggage of enemy occupiers? Christ was teaching how to maintain control in an unjust world filled with people who will take advantage of others if it’s within their power to do so. When a Roman soldier forced a man to carry his equipment for a mile he was in control, yet if the victim willingly insisted on going another mile he would be in control, not to mention he would be ‘doing good to his enemy.’

If you find yourself in a situation where you’re being taken advantage of and the perpetrators can get away with it due to position or perhaps the law or hierarchy backs them up, consider how to “go the extra mile” and consequently usurp control of the situation. This is another form of overcoming evil with good (Romans 12:21). Sometimes in an ungodly world we can’t stop such abuses from happening, but we can choose not to be victims; we can assume mastery of the situation in a way that slyly stumps the perpetrators. Didn’t Jesus say, “be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves”? And, who knows? You might just leave a life-changing impression.

But we don’t have to get so deep as the principle works on a very basic level: When someone in authority tells you to do something, simply do more than expected. You’ll be blessed. It’s “the law of the second mile.”

Related Topics:

Turning the Cheek — What it Means and Doesn’t Mean

Absolute Pacifism (Unbiblical) vs. Limited Pacifism (Biblical)

Jesus Christ — Milksop or Mighty Lord?

Dealing with Personal Offenses vs. Criminal Acts

What Does “Shake the Dust off Your Feet” Mean?

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