John Ed Mathison headshot

John Ed Mathison

Life has its advantages. Those advantages come in different sizes, styles, and situations. Let me tell you about an interesting advantage that every person can have.

It was a beautiful spring day when a little girl came home and very excitedly began to tell her daddy that she had competed in some races at field day. The little girl had to wear a leg brace. The father immediately tried to think of something encouraging to tell his little girl. He was sure she had not done very well in the races.

Before he could get a word out she said, “Daddy, I won 2 of the races!” The father couldn’t believe it. Then the little girl said, “But I had an advantage.” Ahhhhh, the father thought – she must have been given a head start - some kind of physical advantage. But again before he could say anything, the little girl says, “Daddy, I didn’t get a head start, my advantage was to TRY harder.”

Don’t you love that? If you try harder, it’s always an advantage. People who are successful in life are folks who try harder. Anybody can have that advantage.

James Francis Burns, 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. The top people did what was expected of them - and then some. They were considerate and thoughtful - and then some. They met their obligations and responsibilities fairly and squarely – and then some. They were good friends to their friends – and then some. They could be counted on in an emergency – and then some.”

To be an “and then some” person means we try harder and go the extra mile. Jesus said, “If a man asks you for a jacket, give him your big coat also. If a soldier asks you to carry his pack for a mile, carry it two miles.” (Matt 5:40) Jesus was always training the disciples to become “second-milers.”

Dr. Neil Hamilton, New Testament professor at Drew informs us that the second mile concept in Matthew was really an evangelistic strategy of the first century Christians. The law said that any person could be summoned to carry the baggage of a soldier for one mile. There were many soldiers in the land. A soldier could summon a citizen and he had to carry his baggage. He walked behind the soldier because he was more like a beast of burden carrying his baggage.

After going one mile the soldier would stop and start to take his baggage, and then the Christian would say, “Let me take it another mile for you.” Now he could walk side-by-side with the soldier since he was not a beast of burden, but rather a peer. Normally the soldier would ask, “Why are you doing this?” That would give the Christian an opportunity to witness to how Christ had lifted his burden.

Being an “and then some” person opens up immeasurable possibilities in relationships with people. Actions speak louder than words. As Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.”

The right attitude and action can give anybody an awesome advantage in 2019!

Contributing Writer