He was tending two grandsons as they swam in a roped-off area in a Texas lake. They came out of the water and were drying on towels when four smaller boys, the only others in the lake, were getting ready to leave. They began to gather up their gear and pick up their trash, perhaps inspired by the Park Department sign that said, “Take only pictures. Leave only your tracks.” The loud voice of their chaperone could be heard saying, “Leave those drink cans! We didn’t make that mess!”
As the grandsons were leaving, they were doing as the others had when the grandfather said, “Let’s pick all this trash up, even if it isn’t ours. The park will be more enjoyable for the next users.” The boys readily, even happily, began picking up the cans and food wrappers that had been left by thoughtless campers earlier in the day. One of them said, as they made their way to the car, “I feel better than if we had left it. Even if it wasn’t ours!”
Christ laid down a basic principle of His expectation for us: “If you salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the Gentiles the same? Ye therefore shall be perfect even as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:47,48.
Think! If Christ had only cleaned up His own mess, we would all still be in our sin and would die without any hope of eternal life with God. It should be a powerful motivating force for us to consider that the whole matter of salvation came about because God and Christ were willing to do more than they just had to. And too much of the work God wants us to do is left undone because we feel that it is not our job. A vague Someone Else should do it and shame on him for his neglect! Again in the Sermon on the Mount, and in the context of the statement quoted above, Christ taught, “And whosoever would compel thee to go with him one mile, go with him two.” Matthew 5:41. The real test of true Christianity is whether one is willing to tackle the jobs that need to be done without worrying about whose jobs they are or whether someone else should do them. And even if someone else gets the credit!
In New Testament times the Roman government was over Palestine and most of the rest of the civilized world. It was the prerogative of the Roman soldier to press the citizenry into service to help him carry his gear. The law allowed him to make you do that for one mile. Most Jews had measured the distance down the road and knew exactly the boundary. Some even marked it off by a stake. When they reached the stake, they divested themselves of the burden. It was to this practice that Christ is alluding when He said, “If they compel you to go one mile, go two.”
In this matter, much of our difficulty comes about because we forget the other principle laid down by Christ when He said, “If you do it unto these, you do it unto me.” We wouldn’t hesitate if we could see Christ in need instead of our brother or sister or the beggar by the roadside. But that’s the way it really is!