Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Extra Mile

Super Size That

No, this blog is not about McDonalds, I just thought that it might be a nice title for this blog which is actually about going the extra mile. I'm sure that at one point in our lives, most of us have heard of going the extra mile, excelling in what we do, turning the other cheek, and loving our enemies. I lump them all in the "extra mile" category because in each case, we are going above and beyond what is good. It is good to go one mile, it is good to do a good job, it is good to not take revenge, and it is good to forgive, but Jesus calls us to go beyond what is just good to what is excellent. Many people will complain that say that going the extra mile is just too much to expect from a person! Well I agree! This isn't about how much you are supposed to do, not at all, it's about all the fun you could be having! I think that the concept of the extra mile is the secret to happiness. (One of many secrets to happiness)

Matthew 5:38-44
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.
If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away."

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you"

Extra miles in:

Your Work

Now read this and see if you agree: Almost anything is fun, unless you're supposed to do it. I think that in general, it's true! Everything is so much fun until you are forced to do it day after day. Then it's just work; something you have to put up with in order to survive. But if apply the verse that says that whenever we are forced to go one mile, we should go two miles, then that makes work different. If you go above and beyond what you have to do, you will find your work much more fun and rewarding! Really! I've tried it. Your work will no longer be boring, normative, or slave-like, but extraordinary! That's the real way to have fun at work - make the work itself fun by going to a level above what you have to. Sometimes that's impossible to do, in which case you would be in a less-exciting situation. Have you noticed how some people like to do every job but their own? That's because it IS, in fact, more fun to do stuff that you don't have to. So try it! Go the extra mile at work if you are in the mood, and see if you like it!

NOTE: You'll notice that I said that when you have to do something, it's less fun, which is why you don't have to try to go the extra mile. In fact, since we are no longer under the law, you don't have to do anything you don't want to do! Scary freedom. But get this, I generally don't force myself to do stuff I Should do but don't want to, rather, I try to figure out why I want to avoid something healthy. (if it is in fact healthy) That's living under grace. I still suffer the consequences of bad choices, yeh, and I troubleshoot whenever I don't feel like following the rules, but the rest of the time I just do whatever I feel like. And I feel like serving God and other people with a passion!!!!!

Your Relationships

"Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two." This can be a witnessing opportunity when you go above and beyond for unbelievers. But this verse really gets powerful when applied to everyday relationships. Many times, we are compelled to do one thing or another in relationship. When marriages fall apart, often it's about unfulfilled expectations on both sides. Expectations and duties are the hard part of any relationship, and this can make it all much more smooth! Translated, this verse means "whoever compels you to set the table, sweep the floor too!" This will not only be more fun than just doing what you have to, but it will also show love and ease tension in relationships. A surprise gift which isn't expected is also pretty cool.

Your Enemies

First of all, what is the whole turning the other cheek deal about? I believe that it's a non-violent way to make them stop. You might notice that it's very difficult to hit someone on the cheek if their face is turned. This verse does not mean that you have to let people kill your family and you shouldn't defend them. No, it means that whenever possible, we can overlook an offense, and stop the violence in a peaceful way. It also will catch your attacker off-guard. They won't be expecting it!

Secondly, what about giving a thief more than he stole from you? Well, for one thing, it shows care for the thief, like, if they are reduced to stealing, they probably need it more than you do! That will surprise them. Thieves don't expect people to give them stuff. That might even embarrass them, to realize that people would give them charity. Also, it's a real witnessing opportunity! Once, a thief help up a christian, an told him to give him all the money in the wallet. The christian did so, but then called the thief back to give him a few more dollars he had in his pocket. The thief was confused and asked why he was doing that, and the christian was able to share the gospel with him. Anyway, the confused thief just gave him all his money and left! That's such a fun story! I love it.

"But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you." At first, this verse looks like a list: we are supposed to love our enemies AND bless those who curse us AND pray for people, etc. But I think that the main part of the verse is the first phrase: love your enemies. Then, for all of us mortals who don't know exactly how to go about doing that, (telling yourself that you should be loving this person doesn't really help all that much) the verse tells us how. It's like a cheat code. I think the whole Bible is like a cheat code book to life. If we can figure it all out, awesome! But if not, even if we don't understand why the Bible is right, if we do what it says, we get a lot further. Pretty cool. Anyway, I think that doing those things, going out of our way to bless our enemies by doing good for them or praying for them actually helps us to love them.

To explain how that works, I'll bring in another verse that's not often used on this topic: Matthew 6:21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." That verse is talking about laying up treasure in heaven, specifically, but it is a general principle. So, in other words, if you invest treasure in your enemy, then your heart will naturally follow. One of my main ways of showing affection is giving gifts, so whenever I have problems with people, and have animosity in my heart toward them, I not only work on forgiveness, but also go out of my way for them, and give them gifts. That makes it all easier and better! So I think that the verse about loving our enemies tells us all sorts of ways that we can invest treasures in our "enemies," because that will naturally draw our heart to them. Yay! Another cheat code to life... I would say that having too many cheat codes will just make life too easy, but it doesn't, thankfully, God will just sent us new and exciting challenges.


So basically, this secret to happiness is to live life to the EXTREME! Going the extra mile in everything will spice things up and make life more joyful and productive. You won't be living a normative life anymore; you will be living an extra-fanta-super-ful life! What fun. People are sometimes afraid to try to follow Christ's instructions to turn the other cheek, love enemies, and go extra miles, but the more thrilling things in life are scary! Yes, sometimes it requires faith, but it checks out logical. Why it works makes sense. Also, passion requires patience. I like how one song puts it: "I realize that this is where my heart is; now it is time to finish what I've started." To reap the benefits of these wonderful verses, you need inspiration and perspiration, as the saying goes.

Ok, I have two very important disclaimers for you. Number One: Going the extra mile is beyond what you are compelled to do, not beyond what people expect you to do. If you try to go beyond everyone's expectations, then when you meet up with an over-achieving perfectionist, you will kill yourself trying to live beyond what they want. So don't even try. The extra mile is beyond what you have to do, not beyond everyone's craziest expectations of you. Number Two: I said that this is a secret to happiness, and that applies in normal circumstances. If you are living a normative life, this can enhance your experiences to a whole new level. But it will not fix all your problems. This is not a fix-all bandaid. This is not a solution to misery, because happiness doesn't solve problems like depression or stress.


As long as I'm giving you secrets to happiness, I'll let you in on one other very important secret to happiness. It goes like this: Don't complain. (Philippians 2:14 "Do all things without complaining and disputing.")
Complaining will make you miserable no matter how easy or hard your life may be. I know that when I complain, it only brings me down. Now, I'm not saying that we should ignore problems. No. If you can fix it, by all means do! I love this quote:
Lord, give me the courage to change what I can,
The serenity to accept what I can't,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
So if you don't like a situation, don't complain! Change it, or thank God for it. Because complaining will take away everything you love and make it all dreary, dark, and miserable. So unless that's what you want, avoid it at all costs!

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