Going The Second Mile



‘But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.’ Matthew 5:39-41

First, Jesus shares an example of non-resistance to personal insults. Rather than resist an insult, such as a facial slap, 2 Corinthians 11:20, we should meekly endure it and suffer another rather than resisting evil with evil, Proverbs 15:1.

Second, we see an example of non-resistance to judicial injustice, Exodus 22:26 / Deuteronomy 24:13. Disciples need to remember that physical things such as clothing are replaceable and truly insignificant in the big picture. Wasting precious time fighting over matters such as these isn’t helpful for the follower of Christ; rather, it is a hindrance.

Third, Jesus gives an example of non-resistance to government oppression, Romans 13:1. On that day, the Roman soldiers had the authority to require a person to carry their baggage or armour one mile, Luke 23:26.

The Jews had mile markers along the roadsides, and they would typically drop the baggage after the first mile. Jesus commands a willingness to go two miles! Imagine the soldier’s surprise! The individual is obviously not thinking about their ‘rights’.

They aren’t harbouring hateful thoughts toward the soldier for ‘making’ them carry the soldier’s load. They are willing to cheerfully comply and serve.

The meaning for us is that we should perform beyond the call of duty; we should do more than what is expected. Truly, love begins where duty ends.

‘Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.’ Matthew 5:42

If someone is in need and asks for help, we should not refuse to give what we can, Luke 6:29-30 / Romans 12:21. Jesus’ words in this section are perhaps best understood as general principles of non-resistance and not as absolute commands to always be applied literally, just as Matthew 5:29-30 are not to be applied literally.

After all, did the Lord really intend that evildoers be free to slap or insult us over and over again? Are we always to give to those who ask of us, turning no one away? The answer is no, John 18:20-23 / 2 Thessalonians 3:10.

Jesus’ point is that small injuries or offences are to be gracefully passed over. If someone slaps us, we’ve been insulted, but it’s not an assault on our life. We shouldn’t feel humiliated but should rejoice in the opportunity to return good for evil, assuming that we didn’t deserve the slap.

To let someone, have your coat or other possession or to go with them two miles is to show in attitude, word, and deed that you are not filled with covetousness or hatred but with a spirit of love.

This is the type of righteousness Christ expects of His disciples, Romans 12:17-21. This type of response will have the best chance of touching the hearts of others for the Lord.

To insist on every individual right or to retaliate against every personal injury is to dispute continually with all men. Such actions describe one filled with selfish pride, not humility, Matthew 5:3-5.

This type of response glorifies Satan, not God! However, be careful not to misapply this passage. Jesus never said not to restrain the murderer’s hand. He never said not to oppose the wicked tyrant. And, He never intended for our behaviour to encourage greed or laziness in others.