The Second Mile

When Christ Jesus uttered the words recorded in the fifth chapter of Matthew, "But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain," he reversed, in a few brief sentences, the entire code of religious and business ethics practiced generally by mankind at that time. The Mosaic law of "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth" had hitherto been recognized as the standard for righteous living. Each one stood upon his own rights, and accorded the same rights to his neighbor, and no more. Having done that, each one had, in his own estimation at least, fulfilled the law.

All this, however, was disconcertingly swept aside by the new regime, by the amazing demand that one should do more than was legally required of him. If any man "compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain." This was sufficient to give even a godly man of that time pause, as to-day it raises an instinctive protest in the human mind as being too altruistic—too impractical and impossible of attainment.

But Christ Jesus never gave a command which was incapable of being obeyed, a fact which he proved by living what he taught. His mission was to set forth the "more excellent way," the keynote of which is love, and to prove its efficacy. Not alone what the law demanded, but what love prompted; not the mere fulfilling of a just obligation, but the added courtesy of kindness, small in itself, perhaps, but great because impelled by love; the thing of which Robert Browning must surely have caught a glimpse when he wrote,

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"God shall supply all your need"
May 21, 1927

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