Going the Extra Mile – Matthew 5:41

John Acuff, attorney and CTLA member in Tennessee, wrote recently about a friend named Tom selling a diesel pickup truck. I’m guessing lots of those are for sale these days. He advertised it in the paper. The buyer called and then came to see it on Saturday. He liked it enough to offer $250 less than Tom’s price, but Tom agreed, so the man and his son paid for the truck and drove it home. Early Sunday morning Tom received a phone call from the buyer and expected to hear a complaint. Instead, he heard the buyer say, “I have been bothered by what I paid you. I have not slept well because the truck was worth what you asked. I will send you a money order for $250.” And, he did!

John’s story reminded me of a time when I sold a car in Lubbock, Texas, with what might be called the opposite results. The car was new when I bought it 8 years earlier and I had taken good care of it. A woman and her daughter loved that sporty little Olds Cutlass and agreed to my price. There was no negotiation. They didn’t quite have enough cash with them to pay it all, so they promised to bring the remainder the next month. I reluctantly agreed to let them take the car, but before they left, we went to the nearby tax collector’s office and I put a lien on the car. You can guess the rest. They never brought the balance and I completely forgot about the car, the lien and the debt. Lubbock was in that car’s rearview mirror and I never saw it again, until about 5 years later. A guy I’d never seen had it by then and wanted a clear title, so he came to my office to get my signature. I’ll admit to feeling conned, but I signed away the lien without the money and was amazed the car was still running.

Everyone I know has a story about selling a vehicle or buying one, but let’s compare just these two with our Christian walk. Have you ever been like the buyer of Tom’s truck? You negotiated a deal, even better than your conscience could approve as you thought about it later. You wanted to make it right, so you did a U-turn. Or, more likely, have you ever been like the buyer of my car? You agreed to the full price and promised to pay. You had good intentions, but once you had what you wanted, there was no motivation to pay the balance.

It seems to me we have a similar choice every day, in our dealings with people and with God…in marriage, in business, in life in general. Will we do just enough to get by? Promise one thing and deliver another? Or will we go beyond the call of duty? When our conscience troubles us, will we stop to revisit the cause, listen for the Lord’s guidance and possibly do a U-turn? Do we operate too often with a goal of just doing the bare minimum and nothing more? Jesus instructed us, “If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” (Matthew 5:41) Why? Later, Jesus explained that when we do more than is expected, even loving the unlovable, we are imitating our heavenly Father. We are His sons and daughters! (Matthew 5:43-48)

To be sure, salvation is not for sale. A good relationship with our Lord cannot be bought. You can’t cut a deal. It’s a free gift and you can’t earn it or buy it with money or good behavior. But, when you receive it gratefully, you can honor the Lord and let His salvation shine through your life and words by how you seek to do what is right. By how you treat people, especially those without power. By how you keep your word. By how you show integrity, even when you realize the next day that you need to make a call and send more money.

Article copyright (c) 2009 by Charles G. Mickey.  All rights reserved. 

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