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Shortcut or Second Mile

"If you don't read the newspaper you're uninformed. If you do read the newspaper you're misinformed."

This is a quote from actor Denzel Washington in 2016 while attending the premier of one of his movies. He was made aware of a media outlet releasing information about him that was not accurate. Denzel went on to say, "We live in an era of too much information. One consequence is that the pressure on the media to be first is greater than the need to be true."

We live in a world where we are continuously being conditioned to value convenience over commitment, quantity over quality, and instant success over hard work. We like fast. We like easy. We like instant. We like convenience. We live in a world today that wants it now or doesn’t want it at all. If there is a shortcut we will find it and take it every time.

When we are traveling to visit Charisse's family out east I will put the address into the GPS and always choose the shortest fastest route. There are additional routes or even scenic routes we could take but why wouldn't I want to get where I'm going as efficiently as possible? There is nothing wrong with convenience or efficiency is there? No. But how often in my life am I bypassing what's best for the sake of efficiency?

The faster I go the more I tend to only focus on myself and my wants. When I slow down and intentionally choose to focus on the needs of others the more I practice going what is often called "the second mile." This term actually comes from the ancient Roman Empire. Centuries ago, in the countries that Rome controlled, citizens in those countries were obligated to assist Roman soldiers if they requested it. In fact, the military could ask for their equipment to be carried for up to a mile. As you can imagine this was a law that was resented. For some, however, it was an opportunity to win over the soldiers. When their mile was finished, the soldiers would expect their equipment back so that they could continue their journey. The citizens who understood the second-mile principle, however, would refuse to set it down. They would offer to carry the equipment a second mile. The soldiers had probably experienced many one-mile travelers but probably never expected any of them to go the second mile.

So why does the second-mile matter? I think it's important to understand the differences.

First Mile: You walk it because you have to, Doing the minimum, It's about duty, Satisfies necessities, The focus is on me.
Second Mile: You walk it because you want to, Doing the maximum, It's about devotion, Serves needs, The focus is on others.

When we are willing to walk the second mile we slow down. We have a different perspective than we might have originally had. We look at people as an opportunity, not an obligation. It shifts our focus from our needs to the needs of others. So in a world that not only craves but conditions us to choose convenience and efficiency try to look for those moments where a slower approach could benefit those around you. Be open to those opportunities that you might have missed when only thinking about your day through your lens. Intentionally slow your pace to see how you can serve those around you.

Mark 10:45 says, "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” In what ways can we go the second mile for others in our lives?

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