In Matthew 5 Jesus put a challenge before the masses of people around him. He said in verse 41, “And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.” The Challenge that Jesus gave to the people there was a challenge to do better, to be better, to have a better life, and to have a better world. This challenge was not an easy challenge for the people listening to Jesus just as it is not an easy challenge for us today.
In order to fully understand this challenge it is necessary to understand what was going on during this time in the world.
During the time of the Roman Occupation, a soldier in the army could require/force a man to carry his load for a total of 1 mile. Jesus, the man that Israel thought was coming to free them from the thumb of the Romans, is sitting here telling the men around him to carry the Roman soldiers’ loads for double what they could require of you legally; to go the extra mile.
Giving is an easy area to apply this to. You see, giving is not really about the money. It is about the attitude in which you give. We know that the Bible says to bring our 10% to the store house. That is the demand. The requirement. Giving is what you give that goes beyond the required tithe of 10%.
Jesus requested that the people, when forced to carry a load one mile, gave of themselves beyond the required distance.
Imagine, you are walking down the street and a cop forces you to carry everything in his trunk for one mile because his car broke down. You, being the good civil servant that you are, oblige him and carry his load for one mile. All the while you are cussing him out in your head or thinking bad things about this cop. That is exactly how the people felt about the Romans.
They carried those burdens for exactly one mile, stopped and threw down the load. There! I went 1 mile! I have done my duty!
What if instead of hating the soldier who forced them to carry a load all of the Jews who were forced responded with love and kindness and carried those loads an extra mile? The Roman soldiers would feel very badly and would most likely stop persecuting the Jews so much.
The key to a better life is to go beyond what is required in life and to instead give extra.
Another way to live a better life is to Seek to Excel. 1 Corinthians 14:12 says, “Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel.”
Earlier in Corinthians we find this verse, “You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.” 1Corinthians 9:24-25 (MSG).
If you want to live a better life don’t be content to be mediocre. Don’t sit on the sidelines. Don’t be a secondary character in your own life! Go the extra mile to make your own life better than it is.
But, in order to have a better life, you must be willing to pay the price.“One of the best things you can do if you’re having a problem is to help solve somebody else’s problem. If you want your dreams to come to pass, help someone else fulfill his or her dreams. Start sowing some seeds so God can bring you a harvest. When we meet other people’s needs, God always meets our needs.” -Joel Osteen
Now, you may say: Joel, I don’t have anything to give. Sure you do! You can give a smile. You can give a hug. You can mow somebody’s lawn. You can bake somebody a cake. You can visit someone in the hospital or in a senior citizens’ center. You can write somebody an encouraging letter. Somebody needs what you have to share. Somebody needs your smile. Somebody needs your love. Somebody needs your friendship.
Are you willing to pay the price for a better life?
Luke 19:17 says, “’Well done!’ the king exclaimed. ‘You are a trustworthy servant. You have been faithful with the little I entrusted to you, so you will be entrusted with more as your reward.’”
Life is full of tests. They happen throughout the day, you could be going through one right now and not even know it. If you don’t learn how to pass those tests God will not promote you. Start by doing what is right in small areas. Not everything has to be big and grand. Sometimes the smallest gestures are the only thing needed.
Lastly, in order for your life to be better you must first believe that the power to make it better is within you.
Ephesians 3:20, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.”
Power that is at work in WHO?
IN YOU! You have all the power you need with the Holy Spirit inside you as long as you have faith!
My prayer for you reader is that you believe that better is possible in your life, and that you go the extra mile in everything that you do.