“And if anyone forces you to go
one mile, go with him two.”
– Matthew 5:41
Conference tournaments have concluded and the teams are set for this year’s NCAA Basketball Tournament. As March Madness begins, I’m reminded of how often games are decided by the ability to execute the fundamentals of the game. Making clutch free throws, getting the ball inbounds against a pressing defense and boxing out for a rebound can mean the difference in winning and losing. Teams that do the little things well move on and the teams that don’t go home. Successful coaches and athletes spend hours of practice time to become fundamentally sound. Coaches then spend extra time watching game tape and athletes shoot hundreds of free throws in an empty gym long after practice is over. As coaches and players, we can be successful by meeting the requirements, but to be a champion, we have to “go the extra mile.”
According to Roman law, a soldier could require a non-citizen to carry his equipment for one mile. The person had to stop what he was doing and carry the soldier’s armor, shield and food or face punishment and sometimes death. Jesus uses this illustration to teach a difficult lesson. He encourages his followers to do what is asked, and then do more! When we think we have done enough, Jesus tells us to keep going. As coaches, we don’t question the importance of going the extra mile in our sport, but how about in our personal life? Are we going the extra mile in our marriages, in maintaining our health, in our prayer life and studying God’s Word? Are we making the extra effort to spend time with the ones we love the most? Jesus went the extra mile for us and He is asking that we live that way too. The challenge is to look at our lives honestly. Jesus doesn’t want us to settle for average. He encourages us to give a little extra and then see how He blesses our efforts.
Heavenly Father, You are an above and beyond God! Push me today Lord to go the second mile in all that I do. Strengthen me to give just a little extra in service to You and to others. Amen.