When We Go the Second Mile
When We Go the Second Mile
Scripture: Matthew 5:38-48
“We’ll start picking the peaches today,” Grandfather said one morning at breakfast. He looked at Jim and Jane. “I’ll let your kiddies help if you don’t insist on picking on shares to the extent of making yourselves sick.”
Jane’s eyes danced. “Now, Grandfather,” she said, “you know that you told us when we came down here this summer that we could have all the peaches we could eat in August.”
“Yes, sir, that just what you said,” declared Jim. “I feel as if I could eat a bushel. I wish that the orchard were not so far away that we have to go on the truck to get there.”
Grandmother smiled. “Perhaps it is well that it hasn’t been close enough for certain children to eat green peaches and get sick. If they are really ripe, they won’t hurt you if you don’t eat too many; so I hope you will help yourselves today. Don’t forget, though, that I’ll be having roasting ears for dinner. You must save room for them.”
“I’ll want my six ears of corn just like always,” declared Jim.
“Me, too,” echoed Jane. “Peaches can’t take the place of roasting ears.”
A few minutes later the twins were bouncing along with Grandfather in the truck on their way to the peach orchard, which was located several miles from the farm. It was not a large orchard, but the peaches were ripening rapidly and Grandfather had called in help for the day, so that he could take care of the orders that were coming in. Since there was no cold storage place near, Grandfather’s peaches went to the neighbors for canning. Car after car pulled into the orchard. Jane and Jim helped Grandfather fill the baskets, make change, and take orders. At noon they left several of the hired pickers in charge while they went home for lunch.
“We’re hungry, Grandmother,” called Jane as they came in on the screened porch. “We’re just as hungry as if we hadn’t had a dozen peaches this morning.”
“They surely are good,” said Jim. “But Grandfather kept me so busy this morning that I really didn’t have time to eat as many as I wanted.”
“Poor little boy,” said Grandmother as she set a platter of steaming roasting ears on the table. “Since you were so badly cheated this morning, I’ll try to do my best to fill you up now.”
After they had gathered around the laden table, Grandfather bowed his head and said grace.
“How many bushels do you think you’ll have this year, John?” Grandmother asked him as they started eating their dinner.
“The way they are turning out, it looks to me as if I’ll have several hundred,” Grandfather assured her. “I believe I’ll get more out of the peach crop toward buying a new car than I had hoped.”
“A new car!” Jim’s eyes popped open and he laid his ear of corn down to look at Grandfather. “Are you going to get a new car? Gee, you surely need one. The old car rattles as if it will fall to pieces any day.”
“But it still goes,” Grandfather said with a laugh. “It has surely been a faithful old bus. I’ve been driving it for twelve years.”
“Twelve years,” exclaimed Jane. “Why, daddy’s car is three years old and he thinks it is just about worn out.”
“But your father is a doctor, Jane,” said Grandmother. “He needs a car more than we do and he drives it much more.”
“There’s something I can’t understand,” said Jim as he started to butter a hot biscuit. “If you really want a new car, Grandfather, why don’t you sell as many bushels of peaches as possible?”
“Well, isn’t that what I’m doing?” asked Grandfather. “We sold at least fifty bushels this morning; and if we keep this up all week, they’ll all be gone. I never need to worry about sales with all the neighbors wanting canning peaches.”
“But, Grandfather, the reason I think you’re not selling as many bushels as you could is that you make such big bushels when you fill an order. You pile on every peach that will stay on the basket. I feel sure that some of the people got a gallon or two more than a bushel this morning because you piled the peaches up so much. If you didn’t do that, you could sell a great many more and you would have more money for a car.”
Grandfather chuckled. “I see what you mean, Jim, but I’m not interested in making money that way. My neighbors always know that they will get good measure when they come to my peach orchard, and maybe that helps some of them to come.”
“Grandfather is a good businessman,” said Jane. “Maybe they would go over to the Bradley orchard if he didn’t give such good measure.”
“Well, I don’t think it’s really good business to give people more than they ask for,” declared Jim. “Is that the reason you do it, Grandfather?”
Grandfather slowly shook his head. “I really hadn’t thought about it as a means of attracting customers,” he said slowly. “I always have more customers than I can take care of; so, I haven’t been worried about selling my fruit. I suppose I do it because I believe that we should always try to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. When I buy something from a man I like to feel that he is giving me good measure and I am trying to do the same for the people to whom I am selling.”
“Is this another practice of the Church of the Brethren?” asked Jane.
“Well,” said Grandfather, “I think it does go along with the idea of a Brethren’s word being as good as his bond. I‘d like to think that everyone feels that a man who belongs to the Church of the Brethren always gives honest weight and measure with a little extra.”
“That is the same thing a going the second mile, isn’t it?” Jim asked. “We talked about that last Sunday in our Sunday -school class. I didn’t understand it very well then. You are really trying to go the second mile when you sell peaches, aren’t you?”
“I suspect it’s something like that, Jim,” Grandfather answered. “I think we are much more likely not to do enough for people than we are to give too much. I’d sooner have it said that I undercharge than to have it said that I overcharge. It makes my conscience feel better.”
“But it won’t help you to buy a new car,” declared Jim.
“Oh, yes, it will,” said Jane. “If Grandfather sells every bushel of peaches this way while someone else would not sell more than half a crop because he gives poor measure, it would pay in the long run. I like the Brethren way of doing things.”
“Well, so do I,” said Jim as he laid his sixth corncob beside his plate, “but it does seem kind of different.”
“The Christian way has always been a different way,” Grandmother observed.
Book by Dessie R. Miller, illustrated by Harry Durkee,
Learning the Brethren way with Jim and Jane.
Elgin, Illinois: Brethren Publishing House, 1951. Chapter 12, Pages 60-64.