An Extra Mile

©WarnerBrothers2013

©WarnerBrothers2013

This is how most people think of retaliation: heroes seeking and serving justice.

The dictionary defines retaliation as the act of returning like for like, especially evil for evil; an eye for an eye.

Synonyms for retaliation are revenge, backlash, resentment, entitlement, and retribution.

Justice is defined as something quite different. Justice is the quality of being just of ground or reason as manifested in conduct, dealing or treatment.

Synonyms for justice are due process, integrity, impartiality and fair-mindedness.

Jesus said this concerning retaliation:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I tell you not to oppose an evil person. If someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn your other cheek to him as well.  If someone wants to sue you in order to take your shirt, let him have your coat too. If someone forces you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give to everyone who asks you for something. Don’t turn anyone away who wants to borrow something from you.” (Matthew 5:38-42)

Yet that’s exactly what we do: we turn away. And in that turning away, we remain stubborn, grit our teeth determined to hold onto hurt and fear, anger and bitterness. And I’m not even talking about abuse or heinous crimes here. (Although we are called to love those enemies, too!)

TalkToTheHandThink of all the neighbors, friends or family members we’ve kept at arm’s length because we’ve refused to be peacemakers, refused to be the ones to back down, decided being right is more important than offering a hand of peace, grace and love.

In first century Rome, a soldier could order anyone to carry his gear for a mile. Jesus uses a real life example to urge his followers to have a mindset of servants, not slaves. He is saying, in essence, “Don’t grumble about being forced to walk a mile with a Roman soldier – someone whose government occupies your land. Instead, be pleased to serve, and offer to walk an extra mile instead.”

It all comes down to a single choice. That’s the crux of it, isn’t it? Deciding, allowing the Spirit to work through us to change our minds and hearts. And, oh, how God could heal us if we let Him.

“Some might suggest that this is a recipe for Christians to be doormats, but I see this as something quite different. I see this as Christians being called to great strength, for through all of this, we are called to rely not on our own ability to strike back, but upon the inner strength of God to overcome evil with good; this is the way of love.” Don Merritt, The Life Project

I also see it as something different. When we do what Jesus asks, the Spirit delivers a different mindset. He transforms us. He takes us out of the victim role and places us squarely in the role of overcomers: ones who have strength, peace of mind, stability and self-control. We become the ones who choose to offer integrity and fair-mindedness. We become the ones who extend God’s hand of peace, grace, love and forgiveness.

When we live from a place of love instead of anger or fear, we make a choice to serve. We make a choice to go an extra mile because it’s a natural part of living our lives. We don’t have to mull over a request. We automatically say, “Of course,” and follow through joyfully to the fullest.

“I have loved you the same way the Father has loved me. So live in My love. If you obey My commandments, you will live in My love. I have obeyed My Father’s commandments, and in that way I live in His love. I have told you this so that you will be as joyful as I am, and your joy will be complete.” (John 15:9-11)

13 comments

  1. The hardest thing we do, beyond believing in God, is to transform ourselves into loving hosts who share that love with all others. I am reading a book right now about how to apply these principles to ourselves in order to be good teachers, counselors and parents. We have to love ourselves in order to love others. The most difficult thing to do and we need to work on it every single day. I am going to check into your online church group, Susan. Very interesting.

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    1. Thanks for your encouragement, Beth. And I’d love to know what book you’re reading. I think you’re right about loving ourselves in order to love others. And I don’t think we can love ourselves until we can entirely accept the love of God into our hearts and minds.

      Truthfully, the thought of being loved wholly and unconditionally is mindblowing – and most of us cannot fathom being loved that completely.

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  2. Sis, been away for a couple of months, got a new computer and knew I had to jump back in so trying to make the rounds again. And what do I find? A teaching on going the Extra Mile!! You know I teach a lot about true love is a love in action, the verb as opposed to some fleeting feeling, the noun and boy did you express a part of that love that I try to live that I needed to meditate on again!!

    I love the quote about being a “doormat” from Don Merritt because you hear so many brothers and sisters stating that very thing and realizing that in their estimation, Jesus would appear to have been a “doormat.” Sometimes our brothers and sisters don’t see things to the finish and that is why the Holy Spirit is so wonderful in giving us our diverse gifts! I needed this message, because we ALL need to be accountable to one another in Christ!!

    Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.” We like to mention the “beatitudes” but so much of the time we forget how they tell us to truly love our neighbors.

    In this day we are living, we need to be reminded over and over again that this is the way to victory in Christ Jesus. This is what the Father really asks of us as sons and daughters and thankfully, He has His messengers who are sensitive to His Spirit and strong in THAT Spirit.

    God bless, Sis, I really needed this word and am truly blessed by it. May our Lord bless you abundantly with His Grace and continued strength!!

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    1. Roland, so glad to see you back, and humbled you landed on my page. I believe there is a groundswell of us pouring out the living water of His true message of love, unity and peace. Our voices join in a chorus that sings out to the world.

      May those who read our words hear it in the genre and volume that resonates in their hearts!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Amen, Sis! AMEN!!!!

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  3. Over comers, that’s part of our identity in Christ. Thanks for this reminder Susan!

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  4. I really get what you’ve said here and I agree wholeheartedly with it. When we become willing to tackle the hard things we find that God will swoop in and lift us
    up to do them with us. He really likes to see us stretch ourselves and grow in grace to be more like His son. Hurrah!

    I have written a post you might like. It is here. It is called “Doing the Hard Thing”
    https://climbthewell.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/doing-the-hard-thing/

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by and adding your thoughtful comments.

      I read your post and I think that doing the hard thing is what Jesus talked about when he referred to the narrow road. And I agree we need to choose it every day – sometimes hourly.

      Yes, being more like Him is definitely growing in grace and offering authentic love to all His children – from ourselves to our enemies.

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  5. wow! thank you!

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    1. I think anything that causes us to react this way and takes over our raw emotions so completely causes us to be controlled, to be a victim of our circumstances or our own feelings.

      As we allow the Spirit to wash over us, we are filled with God’s strength and passion, His love and grace. That places us in a position of a true conqueror of the enemy who wants to ensnare us in a web of our own human desires.

      So glad this resonated with you, Rebekah.

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  6. Powerful words here that will set the captives free, if we will only trust the Lord. God wants us to have a life of peace. Susan these are profound and life changing words. I personally have experienced a offending heart more than once in my life. As your post said it will steal, kill and destroy.

    Thank you for sharing this story with us. I pray it sets many free.

    Much love Tom

    PS can you believe. I thought it was Sunday ha-ha

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    1. We need to change our mindset, especially in the Western World, where these images influence us so much. I, too, have experienced a first reaction of desiring retaliation. But when I allow myself breathing room to let the Spirit work in me, my heart and mind are turn around 180. Sometimes it takes several days, sometimes overnight, sometimes only minutes. And it gets easier the more willing I am to surrender.

      Oh, and tonight we set the clocks back an hour! This weekend always messes with my internal timing. 🙂

      Blessings to you and Carolyn, Tom.

      Liked by 1 person

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