For years my life revolved around how people hurt and wronged me but the light has recently been turned on exposing areas where I may have offended or hurt others in the past.
As God revealed this to me, I have done my best to make amends and it has been hard work. It’s never easy admitting that I was the one who erred, and I was the one doing the offending.
It is all about going that “extra mile” in our Christian walk.
Though the phrase going the extra mile is in our modern vernacular, in fact it has a Biblical root and comes from a statement Jesus said to His disciples:
In this verse, Jesus was describing the practice of “impressment” that was common at that time. According to Roman law, any Roman soldier could order a Jewish civilian to carry the soldier’s baggage, often his heavy armor, for one Roman mile (1.45 km).
Obviously, the Jews hated this law because they were basically slaves of the Roman soldier for the one-mile journey in the hot desert sun.
After carrying a bag of 40 – 50 kg of weight for one mile, the unlucky conscript could legally drop the load and refuse to carry it further.
But instead of resenting it, Jesus said we need to carry it one more mile. We need to deal with our resentment and go the extra mile.
This account impressed on me how as believers, we need to go the extra mile and seek out those we may have offended. To start this extra mile journey, we first need to acknowledge our anger and resentment in the first mile, because there is another expression often used today, “hurting people hurt people.”
Sometimes when we offend, we are not lashing out at the person standing in front of us, but rather at some other unrelated incident that took place weeks even year’s earlier.
If you are like me, you have spent a lot of time and energy focused on how people have offended you, but now we need to flip that coin and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal where we have hurt others.
Walking the extra mile means making that special effort to now deal with people we may have offended. I am reminded of a couple stories where my husband and I needed to do just that.
We had invited friends to our house sometime back and had not received a reply from them. We knew it was possible that we had hurt them and instead of letting it go I sent a text apologizing for what we had done, telling them we were sorry and felt bad. Could they forgive us?
We had blown it and needed to be up front about it.
In another instance my husband and I were in disbelief when a fellow Christian reminded us of hurtful things we had said to her years earlier.
Initially we were in denial and couldn’t believe we had said and done what she described, but, upon retrospect we realized given the time frame and state of affairs in our church and personal lives what she said was probably true. So we apologized.
But it is important that we understand going the extra mile is all about you.
When Jesus told the Jews to go the extra mile for the oppressing Roman soldiers, He was not saying to do it for the soldier’s benefit, the Lord was talking about dealing with the heart of the one who had been forced to carry the load.
This is exactly what happened to Christ, when the Romans forced Jesus to carry His cross to the crucifixion site. When Christ faltered, they conscripted an innocent bystander to finish the journey.
That extra mile is about dealing with what you have said or done that may have hurt another person. You need to take that extra step to make things right and ultimately you are the one who benefits from making amends or restitution.
Noted psychologist, Dr Wayne Dyer says when we are walking our mile there is no justification for anger or resentment as we choose to make peace by forgiving those who have hurt us unjustly. But then he adds, that we then need to go the extra distance to make amends with those we may have hurt or offended.
When we do this, our load becomes easier and the burden lighter as we not only forgive but help others to forgive us.