Second Mile Service

Matthew 5:38-48:

Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand over your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow. “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”


In ancient Roman times, it was quite common for a Roman Centurion to require one of Rome’s loyal-subjects (e.g. the Jews in Jesus’ time) to carry their bag or related items for one full mile. Think about it, you’re on the side of the road on your way to an engagement and a Roman soldier asks you to go a mile back in the direction that you were traveling from just to carry their bag for them. That sounds pretty awful in my opinion; but that’s just how it was in first century Israel. So, how much worse did Jesus’ suggestion about going a “second mile” sound to first century Jews? But here’s the thing. Jesus knew that “second mile service” would catch people’s attention. They would probably ask things like “why” would this person do this for me and “who” is this person? The impact would be tremendous. Think of it like this, when we go somewhere and are treated with great service, we tend to go back to that same place for that same service. We also tend to tell others about the service we received. You see, in the early days of Christianity, the Gospel was not spread by written Gospel accounts – in fact, many early Christian converts could not even read and the first Bible wasn’t even printed until 1455 (or so). The Gospel (the Good News) was spread by “acts”. Jesus was so popular because of His Acts and what He Promised through a relationship with God. We even have an entire Book in the Bible called “Acts”. Pliny the Younger, a Roman Senator and Governor of Bithynia-Pontus who lived from 62-115 A.D., couldn’t believe that two Egyptian slave women refused to denounce their Faith in Jesus Christ; even while they were being tortured to death. He said so in a letter that he wrote during his reign. These two women are just two of the millions, billions, trillions, plus of the nearly countless examples of Servant Leadership; or, as Jesus put it, “Second Mile Service”. So, when we find ourselves with the opportunity to Serve God (in others), we must remember that, even if we’re tired, running late, or just not in the mood, any type of Second Mile Service will be noticed by others (even if we don’t know that they’re noticing). Great Friends of mine were “floored” when over 20 years later they ran into their two Son’s childhood babysitter and she shared that their Marriage inspired her to be a good Wife, Mother, and Christian; they had no idea that she had even noticed nor had she said anything to them in her earlier years. St. Francis of Assisi famously-quoted, “Preach the Gospel always, if necessary, use words”. So, let’s do our best to make “wordless” Evangelization a core component of our lives – for even if the world misses our Good Deeds, God never misses one of them.

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