by Molly Audiss
Matthew 5:41 “And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.”
Israel, in the time of Christ, was under the rule of Rome. Caesar was the dictator of most of the known world. One of the laws set forth by the Roman government was that an officer of the king could compel a Jewish man to do things for him, such as carrying his equipment, etc., for a mile on the road. Imagine, a Jew is walking down a road toward his home at the end of a long day. A Roman soldier, going in the opposite direction, sees the man, and forces him to stop, turn around, and carry his things for a mile, going farther away from the Jew’s home. This was legal; the man had to submit to the soldier’s demands. Now, there seemed to be a few exceptions to this rule. For instance, a Jewish man who was a student of the law himself was supposedly exempt from having to serve the king’s officer. Jesus discusses this issue in His sermon on the mount.
Jesus told the people that, if an authority figure tells you to do something, even if you may not necessarily be forced to obey his commands, then you should not only obey the authority, but you should go above and beyond to serve him. Whoa! Go two miles with the Roman soldier, not just one mile? This new thing called “Christianity” was pretty extreme. When Jesus taught about the way He expected his followers to act, He was not just speaking to the Jews, He was speaking to each of us, also. Christ expects all of His children to honor and prefer others. This kind of living is far from ordinary; but it is the way of living by which the world can tell who is a Christian. Sacrificial obedience is a trademark of a person who loves Jesus Christ.
Every relationship has expectations. That is reality. It is not reality to think that a person can give 100% all the time, all his life, expecting the other person to give nothing to the relationship. For instance, God has expectations for us. Now, we do not have to do anything to be saved. Christ gave 100% on the Cross; all we have to do to be born again is to accept His free gift. I am not talking about salvation here. I am talking about having a relationship with Christ following salvation.
The Bible clearly teaches that God has laws He wants us to obey (The ten commandments would be an example of God’s expectations.) He wants us to submit to His commands if we want to get to know Him. But the beautiful thing about the Christian life if that the Lord always gives more to the relationship than He expects us to give. Throughout the Bible, God tells us over and over and over of all the wonderful things He wants to do for us and through us. His promises far outweigh His demands. Deuteronomy 28:1-13 is a good example of this truth. The Lord tells the Israelites that, if they obey Him, He will bless them. He spends 12 verses telling all the ways He will bless them if they simply obey. Our God is willing to give, and give, and give, and He asks so little in return.
We, too, have expectations in our relationships. A friendship is not going to work if just one person is giving to the friendship. A marriage is not going to be a great marriage if one spouse feels like a martyr, giving 100% all the time. That will not last long before the spouse stops trying. But I am not saying all or nothing. Recently my pastor taught a marriage class in which he spoke about the 60/40 principle. He asked if we would be willing to give 60% to our marriages, and only expect our partner to give 40%. I love this philosophy. I know that I am not a good enough Christian to give 80% or 90% without feeling bitter. But I think that I could give a little more than I expect in return. This thinking would work for all relationships.
When you have trouble with a fellow employee, could you plan in your heart to give a little more and expect a little less from that person? Could you go the extra mile to get along with a stubborn neighbor? How about demanding a little less from the guy driving down the expressway in the next lane? Could you plan to give a little more slack to your child’s teacher? Could you demand a little less from a friend or a sibling?
As mothers, it is natural for us to give much more to our young children than we expect in return. We know that we will get no gratitude from a baby whose diaper we change. We never feel slighted because our toddler did not plan a birthday party for us, when we threw a great party for them. In this one relationship, parent and child, we seem to be able to give and give and hardly ever need anything in return. My own mother is such a generous person. I see her a couple times a week, and she always has something for me and for my kids. For 45 years she has out-given me. That’s the mom’s heart in her. That is the way our Heavenly Father treats us. He puts up with us and all our messes, and He hardly demands anything from us. He loves giving things to His children. Do you think it is possible that we could transfer our parent/child love over into other relationships in our life? We know that we have that love in us. Maybe we could expand it beyond our own children to the other people in our lives.
Ladies, it is not an honor to be “high maintenance.” We laugh about how we expect others to treat us like a queen, because we deserve it. But I don’t see that philosophy in God’s Word. We do not need to set ourselves up as royalty, expecting others to cater to our whims and our moods. That is ungodly. Let’s work toward 60/40 giving in our treatment of others.
Today, decide that you are willing to give a little bit more, and expect a little bit less from those around you. Give that extra 10% for the Lord’s sake. Do it to show Him that you love Him. Each time you give more than your fair share, you can look up to Heaven, smile, and tell Jesus that you love Him. No matter how much we sacrifice, we will never come close to giving Christ as much as He gives us. Knowing that should motivate us to serve others looking for nothing in return.
Photo by Diego Jimenez on Unsplash