” If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.” – Matthew 5:41
In Biblical times, a Roman soldier, under imperial Roman law could demand or command that a Jewish man or boy carry his load or burden for up to one mile. The Jews naturally resented being treated and humiliated in this way, so they carried the soldier’s burden for one mile and not a step further. The Roman soldier, would then look for another Jew to further carry his burden and so on. The Jews longed for the coming of the Messiah, who they thought would set things right with the Romans. But when Jesus did appear, He said one mile is not enough, carry it two miles.
I can only imagine what the Jewish people were thinking when they heard that. They expected a true political hero, a champion of champions, and not one who would ask them to carry their burdens for further distances.
We don’t carry Roman backpacks anymore. But, as Christians, we are asked to go the extra mile. It is easy to do the very least that we are asked to do, but what God wants us to do is to go above and beyond what we are expected to do. This principle applies to every area of our lives today—in our relationships, at home, at school, at our jobs, etc. The ESV version of Matthew 5:41 says, “And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” The idea applies to anybody and anybody means everybody.
The extra mile is caring about the work as if you were working for God: “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” (Colossians 3:23).
Because “extra-mile service” gives you an opportunity to impact the lives of others. A person with an extra-mile attitude is someone who cares more than others think is necessary, risks more than others think is safe, believes more than others think is possible, and gives more than what others think is practical.
By carrying the pack an extra mile, it not only showed the soldier the love of God but opened up an opportunity to tell him about Jesus. There’s no telling how many soldiers became Christians during that second mile. How many more people become Christians if we would just go “the extra mile” for them?
Jesus gives us the bottom line: “What reward do you deserve if you only love the loveable? Don’t even the tax collectors do that? How are you any different from others if you limit your kindness only to your friends? Don’t even the ungodly do that? Since you are children of a perfect Father in heaven, become perfect like him.” (Matthew 5:46–48 (TPT) So always do more than is expected.
- What Bible stories come to mind on going the extra mile?
- What does it mean for you to go the extra mile?
- What can we do this week to help carry someone’s burdens?