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When I was a small boy and Mother told my younger brother and me to make up the bed we shared, neither of us wanted to do any more than was required. A place on the headboard marked the exact middle of the bed. Each of us was careful to make up one side of the bed, but neither of us wanted to make up any of the bed beyond the midpoint. We seldom made up our bed without at least one argument over who was doing more work.

I discovered when I was teaching high school English that my high school students had the same tendency. If I told them to write a two-page essay, the first question was likely to be, “How many lines on the second page do we have to write?” None of them wanted to write a line more than was necessary.

Adults often have the same tendency, even in the matter of how much they will do for the Lord and for others.

In New Testament times, it was no different. The rule in that day was if a Roman soldier was carrying a load, he could compel a Roman citizen, or anyone else living under Roman control, to carry his load for one mile. This requirement grated on the nerves of the people of Israel. The Romans did not make an appointment for you to carry a load the next week. They could require it at any time. You might be in the middle of a busy day, but you had to drop everything else and carry the load for a mile.

Do you know what Jesus told His followers to do? He said, “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles” (Matt. 5:41). Now why would Jesus say such a thing?

He did it because of what it would do for the one carrying the load. Our tendency is to be resentful of such requirements in our lives. We often seethe with anger. We count the steps we take. We do not want to do any more than is necessary. But, as He often did, Jesus offered astounding advice. He said, “If anyone forces you to go one mile, double it and go two miles with them.” It will do wonders for you. As an old proverb declares, “If you harbor bitterness, the ship of happiness will never dock in your life!”

Not only will it do wonders for you, but it will also do wonders for your witness to people all around you. Be generous. Throw away your measuring tape and your calculator. Instead of responding with bitterness and the bare minimum, bestow on others generosity and love. When you become a “second-mile Christian,” you will bless the people around you, and the impact of your life will be multiplied.

LYNN JONES is a retired pastor, supply preacher and author who lives in Oxford. He can be reached at kljones45@yahoo.com.

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