The Second Mile

“And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.”

— Matthew 5:41

How do you deal with people who “do you dirty?” We all have people in our lives who stab us in the back, say cruel things about us, or do mean things to us. But the Bible has a secret, one we often overlook, for dealing with those who mistreat us. It’s the secret of “the second mile.” To understand it, we need a quick history lesson.

The Medes and the Persians, and later the Romans, had a law that stated that a government official could, at any time, force a citizen to carry any burden for one mile. When Jesus told His followers to walk the second mile, he referred to this law. Jesus wanted people to return good for evil—to, out of their free will, go far beyond what others expected of them.

Christ’s urging is like a timid flower within the Sermon on the Mount, but the fragrance it gives can transform your whole life and work wonders of reconciliation with those who anger you. People who fail in relationships and in business are often those who, when asked to go a mile, try to make it a half-mile. The mediocre people are those who go the one mile, doing what people expect of them but not an inch more. But when you look at a successful person, you’ll find someone who has gone the second and the third mile a thousand times over. A person who habitually does more than expected, who finds ways to please, will succeed.

So how does this work? It’s simple. If someone does you wrong, you do them right. I’ll be the first to agree that this goes against human nature as does much of applied Christianity. But the second mile allows us to transform any slight or injury into a blessing, and it gives us a tool to knock down barriers in school, in business, in our marriages, and in our homes. See today if you can’t find some opportunity to go the second mile for someone in your life.

“Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet
sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
Mark Twain