by Kathy Matuschka
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‘If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles’ (Matthew 5:41).
I recently heard an exposition of this ‘turn the other cheek’ passage in Matthew 5 (thanks Rick Strelan). It suggested that turning the other cheek might actually be self-protective because turning your right cheek towards your opponent’s right hand ensures they cannot hit you as hard as if they were able to take a good swing at your left cheek.
What then might it mean to go a second mile after you have been forced to go the first? There are some stages in life in which any of us would lack the grace to submit to a demand like this with a generous spirit. And there are some situations where our most pressing work is to retrieve some of our own dignity and to shore up our own boundaries and self-care so that we are better positioned to continue to love others for the long term.
What does it mean, though, for our anxious world when as Christians we can joyfully over-deliver, even when we have been treated badly by others? I am not talking about being a doormat who does what others say because they do not recognise their value as a dearly loved child of God, as precious as the next person and equally worthy of honour. I am talking about wise generosity where you freely and willingly choose the long game as Jesus did (Philippians 2:5–8).
On so many levels I resist doing this. In earthly terms, it is simply not fair. The only hope I have of getting to this place of joyful obedience is by dying to myself every single day and rising with Christ a little more transformed and renewed.
It is a painfully slow process.
Dear Jesus, as I consider the challenges faced by this world in general, and my neighbours in particular, I pray that you will fill me with your Spirit of wise generosity. Amen.