“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. Matthew 5:38-42
He saw him coming. Clouds of dust puffed up on the Judean road as the Roman soldier made his way, his eyes set on the conquered man.
“Carry my pack, Hebrew,” he sneered as he slung his heavy knapsack at his feet. The young Jew’s heart was torn. By law he must carry the soldier’s sack one mile, but his instant urge was to spit in his face. Thinking of his young wife and child at home and the repercussions that would surely occur he slowly picked up the burden.
Every step was torture—a reminder of his bondage. So, every step was counted for he would not endure this indignity one meter beyond the prescribed distance. At the last step the pack dropped quickly from his shoulders and he turned away, cursing silently.
A year went by. And the Messiah came. The young Hebrew heard truth of a new kingdom and a new life. He found himself on his knees in full surrender to this One who claimed you could be free in any circumstance. Something happened in his heart that he could not describe. Something real. Something life changing. Even though he lived in the same land with the same conquerors he found his heart could sing. Because of Christ there was nothing anyone could do to bind him. He lived by a higher law for a greater purpose. His address was the same but he was in a new place.
As God would have it, one day he looked up to see the same soldier on his rounds coming down the dusty road and the same command was given. This year, the young man lifted the pack with joy. As they walked the mile, he asked the soldier, far from home, about his family and his life in Rome. Soon distinctions were lost in the flow of life to life, man to man. Time passed in earnest conversation, but it was not lost on the soldier that they had passed the mandatory mile.
“Hebrew, you’ve gone your mile, now give me my pack,” said the soldier.“The first mile was duty,” the young man smiled. “The next is a gift from my King…a gift of His love.” “I’ve never had a Hebrew go a second mile,” replied the soldier. “Then, you’ve never met my Master!” (1)
Great story, right? What a change we see in this young Hebrew man that was brought about by God's transforming work in him! But rather than just read these verses and take in the story, let us ask the Lord how He would have us apply this to our lives, and more specifically to our marriage relationship. For God's Word is not only meant to “inform us”, but more importantly to “transform us”!
Let's Get Practical
So what might it look like to go the second mile in your marriage? Here are a few examples:
Oftentimes, an extra mile will be an inconvenience in your day, such as stopping by the store when you did not expect your spouse to ask you, or picking up the kids at practice when you were trying to relax at home.
Sometimes, going the extra mile could mean doing some chore around the house that your spouse normally does, but that you choose to do for them. Maybe they hate vacumming, or laundry, or dusting. You get the picture. Lighten their load.
Or as a final example, the extra mile could look like going beyond what is required. Your wife asked you to clean your side of the bathroom counter and you, not only do that, but clean her side as well and the mirror and floor in that bathroom.
As you think about the above examples, think of the overarching idea as this: making use of your understanding of the likes and dislikes of your spouse, and then choosing to serve them in a way that is truly meaningful to them. Ask God to help you very specifically find ways to serve in this way.
I thought about trying to give some kind of “definition” to this idea, but really liked what this post shared about what they called “extra-milers”: Simply stated, Extra Milers go over and beyond, anticipate needs, are generous and caring, cheerful, compassionate, and grateful. They don’t wait to be served – they serve. They don’t need the carrot or the stick to get moving. (2)
As I wrap up this practical section, let me remind all of us that we must also ask God to help us do these things with an attitude that does not expect anything in return. Your motivation in doing this is not so your spouse will do something nice in return. Your motivation is not even to get a thank you from them, although that would be nice. Our model, Jesus, came “not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45). I must come at this extra-mile challenge asking God to help me serve my spouse sacrificially and selflessly. Without that Christ-like motivation, my efforts to go the extra mile will likely be temporary.
Here's what Hans Molegraaf shares on the motivation needed to do this: The story of Easter is not only a distant, academic, story of a Man who did some good things for some people, died on a cross, and then miraculously came back to life. The story of Easter is as personal and heartfelt a story as you’ve ever heard. It’s a story of a Creator coming to the rescue of His creation. It’s a story of Someone who gave up everything so that He could give you everything. It’s the most relevant, practical, and inspiring story that’s ever existed. Jesus created you. He loved you, but you didn’t love Him and you lived against Him. You were God’s enemy, but Jesus continued to love you and pursue you by opening your eyes to your need for Him. He met you right where you were and moved you to believe in Him, and even started preparing a perfect place to spend your life in eternity. As you consider who Jesus is, what He’s done for you, and what He’s promised you, there should be a certain level of motivation to do what He says. Not out of obligation or duty, but out of gratefulness. Marriage will be difficult at times. More accurately put, your SPOUSE will be difficult to love at times. It’s in those times you need motivation, and your greatest motivation to love your spouse when the going gets tough is found in the main character of the story of Easter. Jesus. In short, don’t love your spouse as they deserve, but love them as Christ deserves.(3)
1) Using this article and any ideas you think of, come up with at least two tangible ways you can show “extra-mile” love to your spouse. Then plan time this week to get at least one of those done, and the other one in the weeks that follow.
2) Share this post with a close same-gender friend of yours. Commit together to be “extra-milers” in your marriage and to encourage and hold each other accountable in this.
(1) Story by Pastor Bill Elliff, 2010.
(2) April 2013 Blog Post: https://encourageyourspouse.com/the-extra-mile/
(3) Marriage Revolution Post by Hans Molegraaf: Your Marriage Need Easter Link: https://www.marriagerevolution.org/why-your-marriage-needs-easter/
4) Photo by Malachi Brooks on Unsplash
Written by Glen Solberg, Abiding Marriage, 2019. All Rights Reserved. If you have questions or comments, you can connect with at info@AbidingMarriage.org