Signs of the Times

The Second Mile

The Rev. W. T. Burkitt
Southern Press, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Jesus commended to his disciples the law of the second mile. When the Romans conquered Palestine they brought with them a custom borrowed from the Persians. Any Roman official or soldier could command any Jew or his beast to carry his baggage a mile ... "Whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain." said Jesus. Obey the recognized law, but show at the same time that there is something in you beyond and higher than the law.

Christianity is a religion of devotion, not of compulsion, and the advice of Jesus here is, Turn the hated, uncongenial task into sacrificial service. In the first mile you are a conscript, but in the second a volunteer; in the first a slave, but in the second free. The first mile is necessity, the second is service; the first is law, the second is love; the first justice, the second magnanimity (unmeasured love).

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March 11, 1944

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