Going The Extra Mile

Going The Extra Mile

In the course of everyday conversation, it’s amazing how many times we use a well-known phrase to describe a given situation. These phrases are known as ‘idioms’.

Here are some examples:

  • A blessing in disguise – meaning: something good that seemed bad at first
  • Bite the bullet – meaning: to get something over with because it is inevitable
  • Break a leg – meaning: Good Luck. (A saying familiar with actors when they begin a performance).

This week, a colleague ‘helped me out’ with a particularly sensitive situation. There was a limit to what I was able to do, and my colleague provided invaluable support so that the situation reached a positive conclusion. When I discovered the extent of the help I’d been given, I said to my colleague, ‘you have gone the extra mile to help me’.

Afterwards, while on the train home, I began to wonder where exactly did that phrase come from? And not surprisingly, many such statements originate in Scripture! 

In Matthew 5:38-42, Jesus talks to His followers about ‘gaining revenge’. One very well-known saying was ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ – again, a phrase from the Old Testament; it’s a reference to ‘getting even’ with someone. Then He speaks about going beyond what is expected, and He sets us a challenge in respect of ‘going the extra mile’. 

Those listening to Jesus would be very familiar with this illustration. In the first century, a Roman soldier could legally compel any individual to carry their kit for up to one mile, by force if necessary. Of course, nobody likes being treated this way, but Jesus challenges us to not only be willing to be imposed on by others, but to accept the burden willingly and even being willing to “go the extra mile”.

Jesus is teaching His followers both then and now, to exceed what was expected of them.  

In Luke 10:30-37, we have probably the most well-known example of someone who went that extra mile. Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan and His aim is to get the people to understand that everyone is our ‘neighbour’. The Samaritan is the man who comes to the aid of the Jewish traveller. A most unlikely combination, as Jews and Samaritans weren’t the ‘best of friend’s’!!! 

Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than what I have already paid, I’ll pay you the difference the next time I’m here

Luke 10:35

We have seen many examples, particularly over the last year, of how individuals, families, Churches, Faith and Community Groups, Neighbourhoods and so on, have gone that ‘extra mile’ to help others. But for the Christian, this type of action should be natural – it’s our faith in action!

‘Lord, when did we see You in need? When did we visit you when you were sick or in prison’?

Jesus replies, ‘When you did those things to those least deserving, you were doing it to me!’

Maybe this week, you could ‘go that extra mile’ – you’ll be blessed and encouraged.