Sermon Prepared by James McCullen
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Matthew 5:41
41 "And whoever shall force you to go one mile, go with him two.    (NAS)

"Hey, Jew, you standing out there in the field with that sickle, come here and carry my burden for a mile." That's the kind of command a Roman soldier could give in and around Jerusalem during the Roman captivity in the first century. Therefore, our Lord said, "And whosoever shall force you to go one mile, go with him two." That text, and a comment by Donna Fortune last Sunday night about Smiling on the Second Mile, causes me to title this sermon, "Smile On The Second Mile."

I read of a Sunday School teacher who had assigned this passage for memory work. Being a very understanding teacher, she repeated the verse to refresh their memories, "Whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain." Then she asked, "Does anyone know the memory verse?" Up went a hand. "All right, what is it?" The little boy answered, "Whosoever shall compel thee to go one mile, go with him by train." Notice point I.


41 "And whoever shall force you to go one mile, go with him two.    (NAS)

It was not uncommon that a Jewish man would have a smile actually measured. He may have a spike, or a marking stick driven down from his home one mile in both directions. One mile, at this time, was 1,000 paces. It would not be uncommon for a Roman soldier to be shown a resentful attitude as a person was forced to carry a burden for one mile. But the Lord dealt with this problem. And He said, "If you're forced to carry the burden for one mile, go the second mile. Gladly go the extra mile. Justice is in the first mile. Grace motivates the second."

The Lord is talking about an attitude. He's talking about a smile on the second mile. That you not only do what is required, but your attitude is to go beyond what is required. What kind of an attitude do you have this morning about a Second Mile? We're in a financial emphasis, but let's just take it into all kinds of areas. What about your attitude? Is it one that you are willing to constantly be a person who goes the second mile? Is it the kind of an attitude that would fit in to what our Lord taught concerning the second mile?

One day a lady came to the doctor's office with her three boys. When she sat down she saw a little girl with one leg in braces. She then noticed the little girl's mother come out from the doctor's office with a son who also had a handicap. The lady thought to herself, "What a terrible burden for a woman."

When this lady got into the doctor's office, she asked about the mother. The doctor said, "That young lady and her husband met in a mental institution as they were visiting their parents. The fell in love but determined not to have children by natural childbirth. They asked me to find some children to adopt but they said, "Don't find normal children for us. Find some children with handicaps, children that perhaps no one else wants. We would love to give them an opportunity to grow up in as much of a normal home as possible."


That's the second mile attitude. It causes one to recognize the difference in your attitude. The soldier would have said, "Who is this person? What is it about him that makes him act like this? He is doing it cheerfully, and is going beyond his duty." And they will be driven to this conclusion: "This man is different, he seems to be unconcerned about his own interests." Is there any of that in your life? Notice the second point.


41 "And whoever shall force you to go one mile, go with him two.    (NAS)

The reason for going the second mile is to affect or to influence those around you with what Christ has done and is doing in your life. It is not normal to want to go a second mile. It is not expected that a person would go the second mile, and yet, when a person does willingly (with a smile, with enthusiasm) go the second mile, they are going to have an affect that is Christ like.

The second mile is not a human experience; it is to be drawn from the power that God would place within you. If you really want to have a Christ like affect on your world, then allow this scriptural theme to cause you to want to go the second mile in every area of life that you could possibly do so.

Dr. Norman Vincent Peale shared that a man had been coming to the church for a long time, and he looked like a miserable person. He sought out Dr. Peale and said, "Why is it that most people in your church seem so happy? Are they putting on?" Dr. Peale said, "No, most of them are genuinely happy." The man said, "Well, I'm miserable." Dr. Peale asked the man to share. He said he was a business man and had five competitors who tried to undercut one another. After the man told his story, he said, "Can I be helped?"

"Yes, I know a way you can be helped, but you wouldn't want to do it.? The man said, "How do you know I wouldn't?" Dr. Peale said, "I know you wouldn't." The man fumed and said, "Tell me the answer. I need to know." Dr. Peale said, "But I know you would not do this." The man said, "Whatever it is, I will do it." Dr. Peale then said, 'Every night pray for your competitions by name and ask God to give them more business next year than he gives you." The man stormed back, "I'm not going to do anything of the kind." Dr. Peale said, 'I told you." The man paused and said, "Yes, and I told you I would, didn't I?"

Dr. Peale began to notice this man's countenance. The man sought a conference with Dr. Peale and told him he had taken his advice. "I prayed that God would give my competitors more business next year than He gave me. After I prayed I said, Lord, you know in my heart I don't mean that, but I want you to help me and I'm going to continue to pray.


The second mile has an affect on all who observe it. It can change us and those we are directly involved with and all who see. Notice part III.


41 "And whoever shall force you to go one mile, go with him two.    (NAS)

How can you and I accomplish in life what we want to accomplish, or to have our accomplishments go even beyond our fondest dreams? One of the basics for the Christian life would be this second mile attitude. It will enable us to reach beyond ourselves and touch others in a powerful way. Giving money to the Second Mile fund to help pay building payments can produce an accomplishment in the lives of children and youth beyond our expectation.

A Christian doctor was called upon to examine a little girl who was almost lifeless. She had a severe case of diphtheria. He called for a nurse and a scalpel and made an incision into the windpipe and put in a tube. He watched over her, occasionally having to clean that tube. Along about midnight he decided to sleep an hour and asked the nurse (a recent graduate from nursing school), "Do you think you could take out that tube and clean it if necessary, while I get some sleep?" The nurse thought she could.

The doctor went to sleep. During his sleep, the tube filled up and the nurse panicked, rather than remembering how the doctor had cleaned the tube. She ran to awaken the doctor, and by the time the doctor got to the little girl, she had died.

The doctor said he would write a letter demanding that the nurse's registration be revoked. In the night, the doctor dreamed about Christ and His forgiveness. In the morning the nurse pleaded with him to give her another chance. Because of Christ, he did. The nurse went on to be the superintendent of the largest Children's Home in all Great Britain.


What did the doctor accomplish by giving the nurse another chance? He allowed a nurse to overcome one failure and become a great success. You and I need to have that kind of second mile experience that allows us and others to accomplish all that could be within the possibility of their talents and gifts.


We have an example in Christ. He went the second mile for us. Paul expressed it this way, "He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Ph. 2:8.

It is interesting that when Ghandi died, the most complimentary thing they said about him was, he died a Christ like death. Jesus was, and is, the great example of the second mile.

Today we sing a hymn of decision for you to commit your life to Jesus Christ. You come as we sing.