A successful salesman summed up his success with three simple words: “and then some.” He explained that what separates the top achievers from the average group of people can be found in these three words. Those who make it to the top do what’s expected of them…and then some. They fulfill their job requirements…and then some. They meet their obligations…and then some. In other words, they go above and beyond the call of duty…beyond what is merely expected of them.
In Matthew 5:38-48, Jesus tells us to follow this approach of going beyond what is simply required of us and to do the unexpected. “If someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek, also…if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (verses 39-42). Does this sound like a strange way to do business? No doubt. Is it a shocking, unnatural way to respond to insults? Absolutely. Yet, these are not commands that God gives to us for extra credit; they are the way that God calls us to live our lives every day.
You’ve said at times, “If you scratch my back, then I’ll scratch yours.” But Jesus says, “No. Even if you don’t scratch my back, I’ll still scratch yours. What’s more – even if you strike my back with flesh-tearing blows, I will still scratch your back and maybe even massage your shoulders as well.”
These verses, however, raise questions, don’t they?! For example, are these words of Christ to be taken at face value? Are we to take Jesus’ words absolutely literally? If so, then that would mean that if someone were to come up to me and ask me to give him my car, I would be obligated to do so (see Matthew 5:42). It would also mean that you have to say “yes” to anyone who wants to borrow from you, even if it means that your money would almost certainly never be returned. If everyone in the world took these verses literally, chaos would rule as people unjustly took from others, knowing that no one could say “no.”
What Jesus is aiming for here is a gracious approach to life. Are you quick to give or quick to grab? Are you likely to share or prone to keep? Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Those who live with an open hand know this blessed life well. Without question, we must use discretion and not give blindly to others, but remember, the act of giving is more than just the sharing of money. You can also give of your time, your energy, and your talents as well.
Will you live with an attitude of doing more than what is expected? Go the extra mile, do not return anger for anger, and do more than what is required. It is the higher way to live. It is the Christian way to live.