This past week, I heard a sermon on what Jesus meant when he said, “If someone asks you to go one mile, go with him two.” (Matthew 5:41) It was one of those sermons that you were compelled to take with you into your week and ask yourself, “In this situation, what does it mean to go the second mile?” My husband and I bantered back and forth a bit over the next couple of days saying, “Remember! Go the second mile!” And then I saw Matthew 5:41 put into action. I witnessed a stranger going the second mile.
His money was all spread out on the counter. It was obvious as he looked at what showed on the cash register and what he was trying to count out that he was not familiar with the currency. As the cashier kept pointing to the money and then to the cash register, he would look in bewilderment. She would reach and take another bill and lay it down to show him he needed more. When he had emptied his wallet, he lacked a few dollars being able to make his purchase. The line grew longer as he looked confused and slightly frightened. The cashier kept pointing to the money and to the register to show him he was short the correct amount. A lady in the line just behind him opened her purse and pulled out a bill large enough to cover the remaining purchase. Everyone smiled; some because they knew the line was finally going to move forward and some because they witnessed someone being generous and kind. Folks tried to point to the kind lady and help the gentleman understand what she had just done for him. He could not thank her because he could not understand. He just walked away with his items with a completely lost look on his face. I will never forget what I heard the woman say as it was her turn at the cash register. As the cashier thanked her for her help, she said, “Hey, if it were me in a strange country trying to learn another language I would never be able to. We have to help all we can!” This lady not only realized that someone needed a few extra dollars; she was able to put herself in their place and empathize. She was able to go the second mile.
As I pondered what I had witnessed I remembered those times years ago trying to figure out the money in the country I had just moved to. I did just as this gentleman. I would lay it all out, look at the cash register and try and determine what I needed. With no language skill it was always confusing and sometimes frightening as I made mistakes. Several of us were blessed that day. We were blessed as we watched the patient cashier. We were blessed as we watched someone step up to help. We were blessed as we realized she expected no thanks in return. I was blessed as I heard her put herself in his shoes. This is all God is asking of us. I am frequently asked, “What can I do?” Simply put, you can observe; you can empathize; and you can lend a hand. We can welcome the stranger by going the second mile.