This past weekend I had the privilege of speaking in the Sunday Teaching Service at Richvale Bible Chapel in Richmond Hill, Ontario. I met one of the church’s elders at a conference in Edmonton, Alberta earlier in the year; his booth (Promise Keepers Canada) was next to the Word of Life Canada booth I was manning and there was an instant comraderie and fellowship.
I spoke on the topic of “The Rebekah Principle: Doing a Little Bit More.” I was first introduced to this principle by a missionary preacher when I was teenager and it’s something that has stuck with me all these years. (Had I taken better notes back then, I’d be able to remember exactly which missionary preacher it was!)
This Sunday was not the first time I’ve given this message but as I prepared it for this specific audience, I was again reminded of how powerful the principle can be when applied wholeheartedly to one’s life.
Based on Scripture from Genesis 24:10-20 and a few other verses, the thesis of the message is that each one of us needs to have a mindset of going the 2nd mile, going above and beyond, “doing a little bit more,” as we serve others and lead them to a redeeming knowledge of Jesus Christ.
I invite you to read the passage for fullest understanding, but as the narrative unfolds we see that Abraham has sent his servant off with all the riches and resources at his disposal to find a wife for his son Isaac, as was the custom in that culture at the time. Upon arriving at the city of Nahor, toward the end of a long day of travelling with a caravan, a young lady named Rebekah is at the town well drawing water for her family.
The traveller poses a simple request for a drink of water and Rebekah responds by saying she’ll not only fulfill his request but give his 10 camels enough water until they’ve finished drinking also. Herein lies “the Rebekah principle” of “doing a little bit more.” Taking into account how much water a camel can drink in one sitting, she really did a lot more. Camels can withstand long periods without water but when they start to drink, and there’s enough for them to get their fill, they can drink a truly staggering amount of 100-150 litres at a time! Simple multiplication indicates that Rebekah carried, literally, a ton of water (at least) that day. She certainly did “a little bit more.”
This mindset is in direct contrast to our modern-day workplace mentality: “I want to do the least amount of work for the most amount of money.” In Luke 17:7-10, Jesus Christ speaks directly to the topic of work ethic and essentially says, “If you’re only doing what’s required, you’re unprofitable.”
It seems to me, as I think through this topic, that there are three types of Christians:
- Participating – these are the ones who choose what they do – not even in 1st mile.
- Practicing – these folks perform to stated expectations – in the 1st mile.
- Profitable – these souls do more than the requirement – let’s call them 2nd milers.
In the book of Matthew, chapter 5, verse 41, we read the basis for a phrase we use all the time in our English language:
“And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.”
Here Jesus is talking about testimony, about “going the second mile.” At this time in history, the Roman Empire ran the show in the known world. In an occupied territory they had conquered, they “owned” you for a mile. A Roman citizen could approach anyone in the conquered territory to commandeer their time and effort by simply stating, more or less, “Carry my stuff.” Thus a person was “compelled to go one mile.” Someone cleverly devised a method of making sure they went that mile by creating things we today call “mile markers” to be sure they fulfilled their duty. But Jesus said, “Don’t stay in the first mile! Have a good testimony! Do ‘a little bit more!’”
Humanly speaking, for all intents and purposes, the Romans were the Jews enemies. If we have enemies it’s easy to NOT pray for them… it’s hard to pray for them. Very few of us (hopefully) have what would be considered a “mortal enemy” yet all of us, in some way or form, have our personal “cheese graters,” those who quite simply rub us the wrong way. Regardless, we need to lay aside whatever contempt we hold them in and be overwhelmed with love and service for others. (2 Corinthians 5:14)
This is easy to say, so, how do we make this a reality in our lives? We can’t live our lives by a measuring rod but always be ready to do a little bit more!
In Part 2, our thoughts will turn back to our passage in Genesis 24 and the other ladies who would have been at the well at the same time as Rebekah in a similar situation who responded differently with tragic personal results.
Bottom line: What can you do to move from merely a participating or practicing person to profitable? What one element of your life can you adjust and “do a little bit more” of to enrich the lives of others and live out your God-given purpose?