Extra Mile Christians

Matthew 5:41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

In New Testament times, a Roman soldier could compel anyone to carry his baggage for one mile without payment. We can imagine that the Jews were not very eager to oblige, but it was the law. Jesus commanded his followers to go an extra mile. The Apostle Paul was a Roman, but he even viewed prison as opportunities to share Christ with others.

Harvey Builders has been a family business for three generations. My father used to tell his six boys, “There are different kinds of employees, but the extra mile kind is worth his weight in gold.” He explained that some workers constantly need prodding and the threat of being fired to keep them working productively. Others show up faithfully and do whatever you tell them to do, but when it’s quitting time, they drop their tools and head for home. Occasionally, you find a worker who goes the extra mile. When he is finished with a task, he looks around before going to the boss. He says for example, “That truck load of lumber is due to arrive any time now; should I go clear a place to put it?” Or he may ask, “Shall I start cutting rafters, or do you have something else for me to do?” When it’s quitting time, he helps to put away tools and clean up debris.

In sixty years of serving the Lord, I have learned that there are also different kinds of professing Christians. I will try to describe some here. Readers may agree or disagree, or they may discover which category they are in. I just hope it gets readers to think about what I have written. Discard what you must and implement what is usable in serving our Lord Jesus Christ. Just give God the glory!

1) The Minimalist
God gave us many commands that he expects us to obey. Many church members faithfully try to keep God’s commands. If they are truly saved, they will receive a reward and the commendation of our Lord. I call these “minimalists,” however. They ask, “what must I do to get to heaven?” “How far can I go in this relationship without sinning?” Or they ask, “How much must I put in the collection plate to satisfy God?”

I worked like that for my father before I gave my life to Christ. I worked okay and got fair pay, but when I was off work, I used my time and money to do and buy what I wanted.

Christians who are in that category may be saved, but they are still in “school.” They will hopefully come to recognize the truth of Galatians 3:24-26: Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

The law leads to faith and faith opens the door to grace. God’s grace is much more than forgiveness of sins. It is the undeserved opportunity to serve our heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

2) The Mediocre Christian
These Christians fit in and serve gladly when and where they are needed. They may work in the nursery, serve as an usher or deacon, teach Sunday School or help with visitation. They maintain a good testimony in the workplace and neighborhood. and they read the Bible and pray most days. Every church is happy to have such members and communities view them as good citizens.

3) The Extra Mile Christian
I personally believe that God takes greatest delight in those who go the extra mile (Matthew 5:41). “Extra Mile Christians” use their creative talents and the free will that their Creator endowed them with to seek ways of serving God effectively.

They view themselves as partners with God, seeking those who need Christ and finding opportunities and methods to share the good news of salvation with them. Or they see a young believer who doesn’t seem to be motivated and pray for ways to encourage him. Where others get discouraged and quit, “Extra Mile Christians” prayerfully seek a solution that would be pleasing to God. They are innovators and spiritual entrepreneurs, ready to venture into new terrain in order to win souls to Christ and build his church. In short, they are “images of the Creator” who are also creative. Do we do all we can to make the message of salvation clear and understood, or do we just do our duty until it’s quitting time? Are we willing to go the extra mile to keep or restore unity in the church? Do we serve the Lord willingly until we hear his Well done, thou good and faithful servant? Or do we just want to go to heaven when we die? Many who profess to be Christians are careful not to get their feet dirty. They shake off the dust with every step they take. Forget the extra mile!

Ralph V Harvey