The other day during my run, I did something I had not done in a long time: I ran an extra mile. At the end of my normal run, I turned around and ran another half-mile, and then back again. Why would I do such a thing? One, I had been thinking I need to stretch out my runs some, and two, I felt good.
Ancient Jews occupied by the Roman army could be legally compelled to carry the load of a Roman citizen up to one mile. At that point, the burden could be put down, and the carrier was free to go. Jesus came along and taught them to go beyond that mile, and go a second mile. He was getting across a point, one likely not well-taken by his hearers. It was humiliating to have to go the first mile, but what effect would it have on the average Roman if one voluntarily went an extra mile?
If you think about those people you can count on, you will probably remember they are “second-mile” people. They always do more than the minimum. They do whatever it takes to provide the goods or services for their customers, in whatever form that takes. Do we do the same thing in our circle? Can people count on us to go further than we are required? I hope so.