Second Mile Religion


 ‘If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles’. Matthew 5:41  

Jesus only asks us to do what He Himself did.  His words are an expression of who He is.  He willingly went to the cross for a lost world, so He has the right to say, “If anyone will follow Me, he must deny himself, take up the cross and follow Me.”  Jesus’ words and works are perfectly married together.

It is the nature of God that He goes the second mile.  When God bestows blessings, He gives a double portion. In His love He not only pardons sin but abundantly pardons sin.  He not only gives grace, but gives more grace.  He promises not only victory but makes people more than conquerors.  He is not only patient but exceedingly so.

He said and showed it

The principle of the second mile is uniquely exemplified in the Lord Jesus Himself.  When He was exhausted He would still pray and minister to people’s needs, healing the sick and converting the soul.

If in His incarnation and perfect life, His unequalled teaching, His miracles of healing, His gentleness and kindness, the purity of His example, can be seen as the first mile to which our need compelled Him, how much more His cruel death.  Love constrained Him to go the second mile to Calvary and the grave.  He bore sin which was so abhorrent to Him. He gave His all as He went the second mile in atoning for our sin.

And still day by day He manifests His love in response to our prayers.  We simply trust Him as our Lord and Saviour and in return He gives abundantly above all that we ask or think.  As the Lord of our life, we can be sure that He will go the extra mile with us, taking us through death, beckoning us to share in His glory eternally.  All His promises are second-mile ones. 

So it is reasonable that we should pay careful attention to His command to go the extra mile.

Jesus is telling us to go the extra mile with those who treat us badly, those who don’t like us, those who take things from us and want to cause us harm. We are to go the extra mile with those who are against everything we stand for and live for. Jesus is saying we should love these people by giving to them, greeting them and praying for them.

True freedom is not doing as we like, but fulfilling our responsibilities and counting it a privilege to do so.    We have heard much recently that royalty is not celebrity, but service.  Therefore, as sons and daughters of the King of kings, it is an honour to go the extra mile for Him.  When a task is laid upon us, even if the task appears unreasonable, we are not to do it as a grim duty to be resented, do it as a service to be gladly rendered.  We are never hard done by in the Lord’s royal service.

Does He see it?

I wonder how much second-mile religion the Lord sees.  If I am to be an extra-miler in my walk with God, then I will refuse to do the irreducible minimum and not a tiny bit more.  Nor will I be doing it in such a way that it is evident I hate doing it but will obey with a smile.  Cheerfulness and obedience are marks of second-milers.

I am to be an imitator of the most generous God and grace-filled Saviour.  The Christian is not concerned to do as they like, but to do what is right and that which helps most and honours the Lord.

The second-mile Christian will be spending time with the Lord in diligent study of God’s word, the Bible, and prayerfully laying before Him the needs which are too many to cover in just one mile.  We need an attitude that knows Christian doctrine and earnestly contends for the faith.  Lazy, one-mile religion, will be fuzzy and fluffy about Christian beliefs.  Second-mile religion will not take the path of least resistance.

The second-mile Christian will not just be found in church on a Sunday morning, but will be at the evening service, and the prayer meeting and will be a reliable member of the church.  Second-mile religion will see us opening our home and giving hospitality to those who can’t return it. I am convinced that the Lord’s kingdom would advance again in our land if believers demonstrated their hunger and love for the visible cause of the Lord.  The take it or leave it mentality is not second-mile religion.

The second-mile Christian will not just give a basic tithe but will live and give sacrificially to the Lord’s work.  A rather glamourous lady came to J.H.Jowett at the end of a church service, and gave a coin to him, saying “It is the widow’s mite!”   Pastor Jowett replied, “But the widow gave two mites!”  The lady went into her handbag and pulled out another coin.  The pastor then said, “But the widow gave her all!”

I well remember going for tea at an elderly lady’s house in Northern Ireland.  She apologised for the house being cold saying, “The heater is not on because I like to save all the money I can to give to the missionaries.”  That is second-mile religion.

The second-mile Christian will be earnest in making the gospel known, creating opportunities to proclaim the most wonderful yet urgent message in the world.  The Ukrainians have shown us the cost and commitment to defending their land.  We need to shake off our laid-back religion and strive to rescue perishing men and women.

The second-mile Christian will go beyond what is demanded of them.  Christ-like kindness and concern will take us on extra-mile errands in service for the Lord.  Second-mile religion will show love for one’s family, one’s church, those around us and beyond our shores.  Dawson Trotman, founder of the Navigators, drowned in Schroon Lake, New York trying to save two girls who had fallen into the water.  Time magazine’s obituary of him had his photo with the words, “Always holding somebody up” underneath.  That’s second-mile religion.

Obeying Jesus’s command in His day would surprise the one compelling them.  But what a witness to those around – unconcerned about their own interests, completely counter-cultural, going the second-mile with Jesus as their seen or unseen companion. 

Are you; am I, a second-mile Christian?

Photo: Roman milestone, Lancaster City Museum