James Francis Bums, Secretary of State under Franklin Roosevelt, once said, “I discovered at an early age that most of the difference between average people and great people can be explained in three words- and then some.” Top people do what is expected of them and then some. They are considerate and thoughtful of others-and then some. They meet their obligations and responsibilities fairly and squarely -and then some. They are good friends and then some. They can be counted on in an emergency and then some.
A LITTLE MORE
We recall the kind old grocer, when the sugar he would pour, How he’d tip the scales to balance, then he’d add a little more. And his business, how it prospered, folks were always in his store,
For he gave an honest measure and then he’d add a little more. So it is with life, my brother, we would write a better score, When we’ve done what is expected, if we’d add a little more.
Jesus taught this many years before Mr. Bums ever came along: “And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain ” (Mt. 5:41). The first mile was the mile of compulsion; the second mile is the mile of compassion. It is the second mile that tests our character. The first mile made a Pharisee, the second mile made a Christian. The Pharisees served out of a sense of duty (Lk. 7:36-50). They wanted to keep the letter of the law, and no more (Mt. 23:14, 23-32). They did not consider the spirit behind the letter (Rm. 2:28,29).
There are always two ways of doing things. We can do the irreducible minimum and not a stroke more and we can do it in such a way as to make it clear that we hate doing it. Or, we can do it with a smile, with gracious courtesy, with determination, not only to do it, but to do it well and happily. We can do it, not simply as well as we have to, but far better than anyone expects us to. When we are forced to go one mile, we can willingly go two. When we are robbed of a cherished liberty, we can surrender even more of it rather than retaliate. This is what Jesus is saying we should do.
Jesus is giving each of us a passport for a second mile. Have you been using yours?
Glad Tidings of Good Things Vol. 7/September 26, 2002, page 1