They don’t pay me to clean the office!
Roman law made it legal for a Roman citizen or soldier to force anyone who lived in one of their conquered lands to carry his load—backpack, duffle bag, heavy weapons, whatever—for him for one mile, but only one mile.
Have you ever been asked to do–or assigned–a task everyone hates? I have, and I’ve done it while pouting, crying, snarling, complaining, and making sure everyone was aware of my martyrdom. I’d like to say those attitudes happened only in my childhood, but I would be lying.
Any Roman soldier who asked me to carry his load would probably be happier when the mile was completed that I would be. However, I am a follower of Jesus, and I am following in his footsteps, so I insist on huffing, puffing, and calling attention to my righteous effort as I carry it a second mile as well.
Is this what Jesus is asking us to do in Matthew 5:41? This was my challenge today.
I act as “host” in a co-working space two half-days a week. Veel Hoeden (Dutch for “many hats”) contains small offices, meeting rooms, cubicle areas, common working areas, and a break room. Business people can use the facilities on a daily or monthly basis. My unpaid position allows me full use of the office facilities.
Cleaning wasn’t (and still isn’t) part of the deal, but the cleanliness certainly wasn’t up to my standards. When repair work on the front entry added more dust and dirt, I’d had enough. A few of the started to say I’d contact the owner, but he’s out of the country for a while so I bit the bullet and said I’d clean in the afternoon.
I brought a granddaughter to help, and three coworkers pitched in also. They asked for assignments, and one man even volunteered to clean the bathroom. In a little more than an hour, Veel Hoeden was spic and span and we were all happy. I dipped into the coffee money and took everyone across the street for frozen yogurt and toppings–yum.
You might be wondering, “What does this have to do with going the second mile?”
Cleaning the office is not part of my job description, and it’s one of those jobs that I like to have done but don’t like doing. However, circumstances made it necessary, and I volunteered (without whining) to go the second mile. Unexpectedly, others joined in, and the load wasn’t nearly as heavy. No Roman soldier compelled me, circumstances did. Yet my willingness–and attitude–brought others along with me and we not only did the absolutely necessary things, but made the whole space sparkle.
One other note on this cleaning episode. My first scheduled task for the day was to write a blog. I keep a queue of ideas, and guess what was on the top of the list? You got it, Matthew 5:41.