In Business By the Book, Christian financial consultant and author Larry Burkett told the story of how he once became the victim of a bad long-term lease. The mistake he made was renting an office space in a building that had an unstable foundation. The problem with the foundation caused the entire building to literally sink several inches per year, and that in turn caused the building to be plagued by all sorts of electrical problems, power failures, and a water outage that lasted for several weeks.
Burkett honored the lease by remaining in the building for three years before finally moving his office to another building. A couple of months later, though, his former landlord called him, demanding that Burkett pay to remodel and repaint the former office. Since Burkett felt that he had already been more than fair with the landlord, he politely but firmly said, “No, I’m not going to do that. Those repairs are not my responsibility.” The landlord, however, continued to make the demands by frequently calling Burkett.
Burkett consulted an attorney, and the attorney agreed that Burkett had fulfilled his responsibility to the landlord. That reassured Burkett that the landlord was in the wrong. But Burkett’s oldest son had a different take on the issue, and he shared it with his dad. First, the son reminded Burkett that the landlord and his wife had lost their only child a few years earlier and had never gotten over the tragedy. Second, the son reminded Burkett that Burkett had often commented that he would like to do something to help the landlord as a way of showing Christianity to the man. As the son saw it, this was a perfect opportunity to do that. The son even reminded his dad that Jesus had taught that Christians should go the extra mile in their dealings with lost people even when those lost people are treating those Christians unjustly (Matthew 5:38-42).
In the end, the son’s argument swayed the father’s heart and Burkett committed to spending several thousand dollars to restore the virtually nonusuable office space. Spending that money was especially difficult for him because he was, after all, a financial consultant who made a living telling other people how to save their money and manage it better. What he came to realize, though, was that the situation between him and his former landlord was not so much a business deal as it was a spiritual deal. That placed it into a completely different category.
Christian, it could be that God might one day call upon you to go the extra mile for a lost person who surely won’t deserve it. Most likely you’ll even be called upon to go that extra mile as you are being treated unjustly. Even worse, you might not see any immediate results (good ones, anyway) from you going that extra mile. It will be during such times that you will have to trust God to take care of the outcome. No matter how the other person responds to your efforts, God will surely reward you somewhere down the line for your work. If nothing else, you’ll at least leave that lost person with a Christian witness that he or she should have no trouble remembering.