“Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.” Mt 5:41
The Impressment Mile
As a conquered people, the Jews of Jesus day, were required whenever a Roman soldier or Roman official wanted you to carry his pack for a mile, or run an errand for a mile, or even guide him for a mile, you had to, you had no choice, it was required. (Why do i always picture Marvin the Martian when I write about roman soldiers?) This mile effectively created servants out of all conquered people. It reminded everyone of the Roman supremacy. Impressment covered a myriad of things and practices but the mile was one that was subject to everyone and one which every Jew would have been familiar with. The Romans invented the “mile”. Its from the word milion meaning 1,000 paces (that has nothing to do with my point, just a fun fact). Carrying a soldiers pack that far was no easy task considering a Roman soldier’s backpack could weigh as much as 100 pounds. (Those illudium Q-36 explosive space modulators must be heavy.) We ae not under literal Roman rule now of course but we are surrounded by demands on us that we have no control over and requirements that we must meet as well as a plethora od expectations. So the advice Jesus has for his contemporaries is very a applicable to us.
The 2nd Mile changes us from a Victim to a Giver
The first mile is all about subservient control. The first mile is a case of the strong dominating those it can. The first mile makes us servants and is about taking what we have, whether that is time, or energy or dignity. The second mile however makes us a giver. A master in our own generosity. No longer are we just doing what is required of us and letting our resources be taken but we giving and there is power in that. The first mile can be taken but the second mile can ONLY be given.
The 2nd Mile changes insignificance to influence
Just a Roman soldier would not value the opinion of someone he was subjugating so too we have little influence over those we serve when that service is expected or required. It is the extra things we do that give us opportunities to speak into other’s lives. This is why the words of our parents have so much influence over us and why we care little for what the rude fast food server thinks. Going beyond what is expected invests ourselves in others and opens pathways to share truth. (Like a KABOOM! Where’s the kaboom? There was supposed to be an earth-shattering kaboom!) This is why God wants us to be generous and visit the imprisoned and care for the widows. These are people that especially in biblical days would probably not be returning the favor.
If one mile is tough how do we then go two? Well, remember, “we can do all things through Christ that strengthens us” (phil 4:13). The second mile turns slavery into freedom and acts of servitude into acts of love. The message is that regardless of the difficulty or not just when it is convenient we should do more than is expected of us. And here is the point: We should make doing more than is expected of us part of our character. This is the old vintage Christian work ethic. If we do this so often it become part our our personality then we will be the kind of people God wants us to be: free and able to influence others by sharing our faith in Truth which is Jesus Christ.