“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; 40 and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; 41 and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. 42 Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.”
My Bible has a subtitle for this section that says “Concerning Retaliation.” I had always read it as a passage about forgiveness and generosity, but I suppose retaliation fits in there as well. Reading it now, in the midst of a worldwide “discussion” about best practices, policies, and endless politics of reopening I see further wisdom. In this passage Jesus encourages us to go the extra mile. Whether that is in terms of forgiveness or generosity, his point remains the same: do more than the bare minimum of what is expected of you. It was the standard practice, an eye for an eye. No one would have judged you for demanding retributional justice for a harm done. That was just the way it was. If someone asked for you to walk with them a mile (this was a customary law in days of foot soldiers…just be glad it’s not a thing anymore), it was standard practice you go with them that one mile. Jesus in essence says, take it up a notch.
With all that we are dealing with, what standards might we be able to go the extra mile on? In our current climate, It has been said, that is our right, but what I tell you is this. Love your neighbor. Check yourself. Take it up a notch.
We are called to different standards of behavior as Christians. We are called to go the extra mile. To live above the minimum standard of decency. We are called to grace and service and reckless love. I know it’s a long haul my friends, but we have some extra miles to walk. Let’s do so together.
Focus: Christian ethics
Prayer: God when we want to settle for enough, remind us of the challenge and courage of your Son that we may rise above and go the extra mile. Amen.
Author: Darcy Crain