If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.
2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “God loves a cheerful giver.” In this season of upheaval there are many asking for help. Some of them asking are our friends, family, and other believers. Others are not. Jesus lays out some new kingdom criteria for giving that goes beyond the norm.
We are going to look at these three verses one at a time. After speaking about an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, Jesus continued with direction. This time it was about what to do when someone wants your jacket.
This may sound a bit strange to those of us in the West, but in the first century Jerusalem, clothing was collateral for a loan. Still, there were stipulations.
Jesus, in this verse, is referring back to Exodus 22:26-27.
If you ever take your neighbor’s garment as a pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down. 27 For that is his only covering, it is his garment for his skin. What will he sleep in? And it will be that when he cries to Me, I will hear, for I am gracious.
In other words, if you need help from someone and they ask you for a pledge that you will repay, don’t resist their request. Be generous and give them full assurance that your pledge is good. Go the extra mile. Put your pride aside and give him what he asks and more, because he is helping you. And, after all, you will get it back.
Next, Matthew 5:41, And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.
Again, in the first century, Rome occupied Israel. It was Roman law that a Roman soldier could demand a citizen to carry his equipment for one mile. Most Jews were not happy about this. They hated the Roman soldiers for interrupting their lives. They hated carrying their equipment like a slave.
Jesus was saying the soldier expected anger and resentment. In My kingdom, I am telling you to respond generously and without anger. Change the way the Romans see you.
We see this law play out at the crucifixion. Here Luke 23:26 gives us an idea. Now, as they led Him away, they laid hold of a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, who was coming from the country, and on him they laid the cross that he might bear it after Jesus.
While they weren’t asking Simon to carry the cross for a mile, Simon needed to do as commanded.
And last, we look at Matthew 5:42. “Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you, do not turn away.
In our ‘me first’ society, what would most people’s response be? If someone who is not a family member or friend came up to them and asked to borrow their car or some other costly item, the request would likely be turned down.
Why should I? This is mine, why should I let you borrow it? What have you done for me?
Let’s see what God says about the wealth of a nation.
Deuteronomy 6:10-12 “So it shall be, when the Lord your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, 11 houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant—when you have eaten and are full— 12 then beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
Deuteronomy 8:12-19 when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; 13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; 14 when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; 15 who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water; who brought water for you out of the flinty rock; 16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end— 17 then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’
18 “And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the Lord your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish.
We see here that Jesus is reminding them that everything they have came from God and belongs to God. When we are in God’s kingdom, He has the last word about where and how to use the resources. What we have is on loan to us from Him.
The issue is not about who ASKS but WHO OWNS.
If someone from our community of believers is in need and asks for help, we are required to help them. We are in covenant. Covenant says, if I have what you need or your family needs, you can ask me for it, and I must give it to you.
Remember the story about the friend that knocks on the door at midnight asking for bread? Luke 11:5-8 And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? 8 I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.
Luke is stressing the friend’s persistence, but the covenant required the householder to give this friend the bread he needed.
James 2:15-16 says, If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?
Jesus is not suggesting that we give away everything we have because then we’d be in need. What He is suggesting is to NOT treat our assets as our own, and be willing to help others.
The real need is not money, etc. The real need is to know someone cares.
When we allow the state to become the mediator or supplier, those in need will forever be in need. Because their real need is community. Involvement is key, not just handouts.
So, let’s remember Who gave us what we have and that He is a generous giver. Ask Him for direction and be willing to give or go the extra mile without animosity. May others see His love through our giving.