Read these two passages and reflect on what they mean in relation to one another.
“You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile,[p] carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.
I find these two passages mixed together to be very interesting. It almost seems like they shouldn’t go together. One passage mentions going the extra mile for people, and the other explains “stripping down weight”’ to finish the race at hand. This weight could mean a lot of things, but I believe it also is talking about taking on burdens of other people. That line I just said is a bit controversial to say in the Christian culture. It defies everything we are taught. However, in order to finish the race God has in place for you, you must protect yourself and the ministry God wants you to accomplish. I started thinking about these two passages and began to wonder, is it possible to go the extra mile for someone without taking on an overload of stress?
Jesus actually models this fairly well. What a surprise right? Jesus will go the extra mile for people, but he never lets a person distract him from his goal. I think of the “rich young ruler” and his questions to Jesus. He wants to learn about eternal life, but he is not willing to meet the requirements necessary to obtain it. Reading that passage again Jesus kind of looks like a jerk. He gives a list of requirements and the young man explains how already does all of those things. Jesus then throws another command the young ruler simply cannot do because of his love for possessions. But the sad part is the man leaves grieving. Why wouldn’t Jesus go the extra mile for him?
He gives other people chances to prove themselves, like the woman in Matthew 15:21-28. We also see throughout Scripture how Jesus is “filled with compassion” and helps others that are desperate. So why didn’t Jesus have compassion for this man? And more importantly, why did Jesus let this man go? He was obviously seeking something from Jesus.
I look at this interaction and interpret it as we can only offer so much assistance to a person. At the end of the day, they are the ones who have a choice and we can’t force them to make it. Even Jesus knew he could do no more and had to let the man walk away.
I believe so often we try way too hard to fix situations when it’s not our place. We take on burdens to help people when they don’t want help at all. The rich young ruler did not want the truth Jesus was offering, he wanted the recognition. Jesus knew this and let this young man walk away because it would have been a hinderance to his end goal. In order for us to accomplish what God wants to achieve in our lifetime, we need to understand we can only do so much.
We need to let go of situations that are out of our control. This does not make us any less of a Christian, nor am I telling you not to help someone. I am simply explaining how important it is to utilize our energy to the people who need our help and not the ones trying to take advantage of us. In many situations, we might have to let a person walk out of our lives so God can make the change in their heart.