I’d been ‘helping’ my Mum to change my baby sister, and now she was feeding her, and I was desperate to go out to play; I was 5 years old. “Go and do the lunch dishes first,” said Mum. I scampered off to the kitchen and carefully washed everything up, stacking it neatly on the draining board. “I’ve finished,” I sang out proudly. “Already?” queried Mum. “Did you do everything?” I nodded. “Well done, off you go then!” When I came home later, she was waiting for me and we sat down to ‘have a talk’. I may have been only five, but I knew this meant trouble! But she wasn’t cross, she just explained, slowly and clearly, that ‘doing the dishes’ meant washing up, drying, and putting everything away. My heart sank, and I remember thinking, glumly, that washing up was a lot of work!
It was also the first time I had experienced the two-mile command. Yahshua said, “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles” [Matthew 5:41]. Apparently this illustration has its source in the ancient practice of the Persian postal service. The king of Persia would station mounted couriers at fixed points to convey messages from one to the other. If a man was passing one of these posts the courier was empowered to compel him to go to another post to perform an errand for the king, but the legal limit was one mile. He had no power to demand more. One can imagine how much grumbling and complaining this provoked, maybe even bitterness and discontent. Yahshua was asking them to be generous with their time and energies, to go beyond what was legally required and be kind.
This attitude appears in English as an idiom, ‘Go the extra mile’, and it’s described as meaning, “to make more effort than is expected of you”. It isn’t enough just to do the bare essentials of our ‘duty’, the Royal Law of Love expects us to make extra effort. Yahshua was our amazing example in giving way beyond what was required. We can grow more like Him as we seek out real life situations where we can practise His command.