Counter-Culture – The Extra Mile (2/3)

Matthew 5:40-42

40 If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. 41 Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.

Going the extra mile always conjures up images to me of military training or perhaps being asked to walk an actual mile by a boss, but saying, “You know what, I’ll go two!” Likewise, turning the other cheek; I imagine a scenario where I have been slapped across the face and I’m like, “Go on slap the other one too!”; perhaps I am handing over my coat to someone else in the freezing cold or emptying out the contents of my house to all my neighbours because they asked for it. Although you might actually do some of these things, I’m not entirely certain that this was the point Jesus was making.

We have to be wary of taking every example that Jesus gives completely literally, if this was what was intended, the list of examples would have to be exhaustive. We could say in that case: when you see a car broken down, always stop and see if they are okay; if you are behind someone at the supermarket check out and they haven’t enough change, pay the bill; help old ladies across the street, etc etc. Can you imagine? There is a principle being taught. I think the basic idea is that sometimes doing the right thing hurts a little, or perhaps even a lot. It’s about giving up ‘our‘ rights for the greater good, living out the Gospel.

Recently, at a card making workshop that my wife runs, she was convinced a certain lady had helped herself to some extras from the things provided. She was a little upset, but very quickly got her thoughts into perspective. The class is run in order to gain opportunities to witness through building relationships. Instead of being offended my wife actually gave her more stuff, which we had laying around at home, to help her with a particular crafting project she had going on. This is the principle of turning the other cheek, going the extra mile and giving your cloak in action. It comes from a heart attitude and a character which stems from the work of the Holy Spirit within us and through us.

“for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Phil 2:13)

Going further is about an attitude of the heart that says, “I trust God in all circumstances where I am being insulted, treated unjustly or being inconvenienced, because God is in control, He is responsible for any revenge if required and eternal value far outweighs any loss of ‘face’, dignity or property.” After all, what real damage can be done by being insulted? Doesn’t our culture just love to be offended at anything and everything these days!

If we have the means to retort or retaliate, should we? According to Matthew 5:5, those who are meek inherit the earth, not the mighty. Meekness is not weakness, it actually shows a far greater strength not to react. It shows strength of heart that comes from knowing who you are in-Christ. Christ was Meek; He had all of heavens resources at His command, yet He bore the Cross with meekness and dignity in the face of insult and injury, in order to secure your salvation.

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:14-21)

Go on, go the extra mile!

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