Day 11

Go the Second Mile

from the The Sermon on the Mount reading plan


Matthew 5:38-42, Exodus 21:23-25, Exodus 22:26-27, Romans 13:1-4, 1 Peter 2:21-23

BY Guest Writer

Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:38-42, Exodus 21:23-25, Exodus 22:26-27, Romans 13:1-4, 1 Peter 2:21-23

You’ve probably felt like a doormat at times. I have too. Worn out, overlooked, stepped on, stepped over, left outside, dirtied, and eventually discarded. I’ve felt it in friendships and in family and in my own home. I’ve felt it in conversations and invitations and misinterpretations. I’ve felt it in my own heart and had it confirmed by others when they didn’t know I could hear.

My temptation is to stand straighter, hold my head higher, and if I’m honest, to sometimes do it right back. Forget to invite. Overlook. Walk past. Not consider. I want to give like in return for like, an eye for an eye, as Jesus said was the norm in Matthew 5:38. This is a human reaction to a human condition; we’re all trading eyes without ever really seeing anything at all. But Jesus wanted to show us another way:

“If anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to the one who asks you, and don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:39-42).

In other words, don’t trade eyes for eyes, giving like for like; instead, take the exchange out entirely: Give and turn, then let go. Jesus is essentially telling us to turn our palms up, shoulder the weight we’re not meant to carry, and walk on, going with them for an extra mile. We ought to out-give, out-do, out-serve, and in doing so, bring honor and glory to Him.

We’ve all felt like the doormat, felt the rub of dirty feet across our backs, a by-way for others to step over in their entrance to the feast. But then I think of sweet Jesus, lifting the feet of the disciples—dirty, sore, broken, smelly feet—and washing them with His own hands. The Savior of the world holding the feet of users and walkers and blind men who thought they could see, and washing them, making them clean.

We are not the Savior. We cannot make clean what is unclean, but we can turn our cheeks, anticipating the sting of a broken person’s hand. We can anticipate the swindler, coming to take us for all we’re worth, and give them everything, saying our worth is wrapped up in Christ and not what we own. We can walk not one mile, but two, knowing it takes longer than a mile to long-suffer with someone, finding in the second mile that we are no longer enemies, but friends. And we can give instead of withhold, forgive instead of demanding repayment.

I know the world may see us as doormats still—used, reused, walked over, and forgotten. But with our eyes fixed on Jesus, rather than on judging others, we will see something far better and more glorious than revenge: Christ, who became nothing, obedient to death, even death on a cross, so that we might walk miles and miles and miles with Him, both in this life and in the next.

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Lore Ferguson Wilbert is a writer, thinker, and learner. She blogs at Sayable, and tweets and instagrams at @lorewilbert. She has a husband named Nate, a puppy named Harper Nelle, and too many books to read in one lifetime.

Post Comments (72)

72 thoughts on "Go the Second Mile"

  1. Becky says:

    In the current political climate, I think we’re seeing this more and more. Even from believers, we’re seeing a “fight back” mentality against the cultural forces arrayed against. This is SUCH a timely message, not just for society as a whole but for me personally. In Sunday School last week, we studied the armor of God and one of the concepts we covered was how we’re in a spiritual battle. When we give “like for like” we mistake who our real enemy is. Our goal is win others to Christ, not defeat them.

    1. Kay Coughlin says:

      Wow, Becky, well said! Thank you

  2. Essie says:

    We need a lot more inhgists like this!

  3. Kristen Clegs says:

    Maybe the point is this: when someone treats you like a thing – an object of scorn, a business transaction, a means to their own gain – GIVE MORE! In a sense, this trades roles: the insulter is shamed because you don’t receive the insult; the lender is shamed because he made the debtor naked, and indebted because the debtor gave more; and, for a Jew to carry farther than is lawful means he is now the one excercising free will

    1. Kristen Clegs says:

      (Post continued)
      … exercising free will and it is the Roman who is indebted, shamed, and made a victim to his own laws.
      Giving more puts the perpetrator in the position of indebtedness, opening his eyes to the dignity of humanity.

  4. Deborah says:

    I’m several days behind in this study. But God, who is rich in mercy, knows our needs before we ask. There is a woman at work who is just as cruel as they come and I am her number one target. She is loud about her cruelty and she is mean spirited. I know there are some hard things going on in her personal life and she acts out on them at work- toward me. We have a big meeting today and I know of an issue that she is going to try to raise with me. My first instinct is to defend myself. I want to let them know that she is wrong. I don’t like for people to think I’m irresponsible, that I don’t do my work well and I want them to know how mean she is (which they already do for the most part). I was praying and rehearsing all the different ways I could respond today. I have friends and family praying. I have prayed over and over again for God to give wisdom for my response. Then per my usual, I got to my desk, opened up today’s study and once again…GOD!!!!!! Today, one step at a time I will “continue entrusting myself to the ONE who judges justly”. He loves me and I am His child and that is all I need hold to today- He is the guardian of my reputation if I am entrusting myself to Him today. One step at a time. One moment, one situation at a time.

    1. Langston Mahoney says:

      Isn’t God amazing in his timing? I hope your co-worker was enlightened by your Holy Spirit- inspired conduct and response to her criticism.

    2. Kay Coughlin says:

      Deborah, what an incredible interpretation of this passage! I hope this went well for you. In my experience, when you invite God in, the Enemy takes it as an invitation, too. If you haven’t already been praying the Enemy away, start now! Say the words out loud and it will have to leave. And may God bless you!

  5. Brenda says:

    I’m a few days behind, but now I know why. Because I needed to read these verses today. We are a biracial family in an area of the country in which white supremacy is tolerated. And if not blatantly, then subtly. We are very engaged in a small group through our church. Yesterday I learned that some racist barbs have been thrown my husband’s way from members of that group. It was heartbreaking. I wanted to walk in to the next group ready to call out and confront. Today I’m reminded that would make me complicit. So I choose to walk into group this week and love. I know many would agree and say I would be justified in being angry and confrontational. But I honestly believe Jesus meant every word of this sermon.

    1. Natalie says:

      Thinking about you Brenda. I read this today, thought it was a good lesson – but reading your real life application of the message is humbling. I cannot imagine walking into that room with love, but you’re right, Jesus did mean everything he said in this sermon. Thank you for sharing!

    2. Emily says:

      I’m praying for you today, Brenda. I was also personally affected by a similar hatred when it found its way into my community, and these words spoke to me as well. Radical love for others is always the answer. Thank you for sharing your story.

  6. Kristy says:

    I really needed to read this today. I’ve been fielding some comments from my mother in law (who is usually very kind and loving towards me) that have really hurt my feelings. For days I’ve been stewing over it – thinking of things to say to her that might put her in her place. I’ve cried, I’ve complained to my husband, I’ve called my own mom so that she could reassure me that I’m doing okay. What I need to do is “out-give, out-serve…bring honor and glory to Him.” My actions and thoughts on the matter have accomplished none of these things. I now look at the issue in a new light – what can I do to help my mother in law to get her out of the mood she seems to find herself in? What would Jesus do?

    1. Lana says:

      Hey Kristy! I never come back and reread the comments because I’m always too chicken little to see if anyone has responded to mine lol! But God gave me the courage to come back today and I’m so happy I did. I’ve been in a similar situation. And one day she pushed my buttons so badly, I wrote a text that was very calm and polite, but the passive aggressiveness was all the way live. It ruined the relationship. RUINED IT. It also damaged the relationship with my bf. Up until that point she was introducing me as her daughter in law. That stopped ON THAT DAY. That four line text was a nuclear bomb. It was the politest nuclear bomb you have ever seen LOL. I can laugh about it now because it was one of the best (and one of the most painful) lessons God has blessed me with and I believe God has worked on her heart too. But just take it from me. Surrender your feelings to God. And until you feel like He has changed your heart, DONT SAY A WORD. DONT TEXT A WORD. Wait on God to give you the words and the spirit to reply. HE SEES. He will help you create healthy boundaries in a loving way and he will also work on her heart. The battle is not yours, it is the Lord’s. Surrender yourself to him and he will HELP. That’s what I do now and it works. But I wouldn’t have known how to do that without going through so much heartbreak via that situation. So please take it from me. Just prayed over you and your situation. Hope it helps!

      1. Gwrn says:

        Blown away by Kristi and Lana’s comments. I’m dealing with a very needy dad who seems to enjoy crossing boundaries. However, he’s also a broken-hearted soul since my mom left him after more than 50 years of marriage. It’s so hard to be compassionate when he’s battering St the walls! Thank you for the reminder to give it to God. Our Lord never lets me down!

  7. Kristi says:

    I also found Lana’s explanation to be extremely eye-opening. Not sure if this is where she got the information from, but this blog post talks about some of the same things she said about the historical context: http://www.reenactingtheway.com/blog/turning-the-other-cheek-jesus-peaceful-plan-to-challenge-injustice

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