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Going the Extra Mile

  • Dr. Les Parrott for the eHarmony Research Library
  • 2003 17 Jun
Going the Extra Mile

One of Jesus' most shocking statements holds enough power to revolutionize your relationships.  He said, "If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles."

Have you learned to apply the extra mile principle to your relationships?  Most of us know how to walk the first mile.  After all, our relationships, romantic and otherwise, couldn't survive without it.  The first mile is what we know we have to do.

Jesus once told the story of the Roman army and their pesky practice of forcing men and boys who were nearby to carry its soldiers' packs.  Being more civilized than other armies, the Romans limited the task to one mile.  And every boy under Roman rule knew exactly how far that was.  In fact, a boy often drove a stake into the ground precisely one mile from his house as a marker.  This way, when a soldier required the task, the boy would walk exactly one mile down the road to the stake, set the pack on the other side and be done with it.  That was all he was required and nobody expected more.

Jesus used this illustration to point out that sometimes we do the same thing in our relationships.  We measure out exactly how much is expected and do just that, nothing more.  Let's face it, with our hectic pace, most of us do just enough to squeak by even in the relationship that matters most.  Jesus, however, says there is a better way-to do more than the minimum.

The extra mile turns the ordinary into the extraordinary, the expected into the unexpected.  You walk the extra mile for your partner, for example, when you take out the trash with a smile or prepare a meal with a special touch.  The extra mile turns responsibility into opportunity.  When you are walking the extra mile your attitude shifts from "have to" to "want to."  That's why the Apostle Peter said, "Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling." (1 Peter 4:9)

Common courtesy is an example of the extra mile.  It sounds funny, but courtesy isn't as common in relationships as one might think.  We take "thank you" and "you're welcome" for granted.  We forget to say "please" at the table.  The Apostle Paul understood the importance of this principle in our relationships.  He urges us to be kind and loving towards one another. (Gal. 5:22)

If we find ourselves unable to go the extra mile, to give in our relationships, we must do some soul-searching to understand where our hesitation comes from.  Whether it's a practical matter such as time restraints or an emotional reason such as fear of rejection, sometimes we must go the extra mile in understanding ourselves before we can go the extra miles for others!

With some practice, going the extra mile will become effortless habit and improve all your relationships.  It is more powerful than dynamite.  Try it.

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