One of my favorite stories of the Bible is the one about The Good Samaritan.
In the Gospel of Luke, the parable is introduced by a question which identifies the Great Commandment:
Behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?”
He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, with all your mind, [Deuteronomy 6:5]; and your neighbor as yourself [Leviticus 19:18].”
He said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this, and you will live.”
But he, desiring to justify himself, asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”
Luke 10:25–29, World English Bible
Jesus replies with a story:
Jesus answered, “A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who both stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. By chance a certain priest was going down that way. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a Levite also, when he came to the place, and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he traveled, came where he was. When he saw him, he was moved with compassion, came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. He set him on his own animal, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, and gave them to the host, and said to him, ‘Take care of him. Whatever you spend beyond that, I will repay you when I return.’ Now which of these three do you think seemed to be a neighbor to him who fell among the robbers?”
He said, “He who showed mercy on him.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do.”
— Luke 10:30–37, World English Bible
Most people are well aware of The Good Samaritan, but perhaps never really read the story in its entirety. After revisiting this parable once again, I am renewed with awareness and conviction in its message…
Am I truly a Good Samaritan?
How often I cross the road to avoid someone in need…
Do I heed Christ’s calling, when I encounter soul after soul, day after day, everywhere I go… giving me an opportunity to serve?
Or do I selfishly justify my own agenda? Rushed. Distracted. Irritated at those that beckon my attention. Or worse, do I deem them unworthy of my time and effort?
I always looked on the priest and the Levite with such disdain, using my punishing critical voice of “how could they?”
I see me.
“Love thy neighbor” doesn’t mean:
Help when you have time. Help when your heart is in the right place. Help when you have energy. Help when it’s convenient. Help when it’s someone you are comfortable with and love. Help only those you agree with and understand. Help only the people you deem lovable and worthy of help. Help only those who believe what you believe.
Oh, it means so much more…
Sacrificial. Selfless. Enduring. Unconditional. Generous. Forgiving.
Our neighbor = ALL PEOPLE.
We don’t know what the Priest and the Levite had in mind, when they chose to ignore this wounded man. Perhaps they didn’t want to get their Holy Hands dirty, or their sacred lives messy. It could be that they were so distracted with their own pious mission, they simply didn’t think to look up to see the man. Or even worse? They believed someone so broken and beaten down was surely not worthy of their precious time and attention. Were their deceiving beliefs keeping them from serving their Lord? Oh, the fundamental hypocrisy lays the groundwork for so many.
Whatever the reasons, no matter their intentions, two prestigious people dishonored God’s greatest purpose for our lives. God calls us all to care for his children. There are no boundaries, no rules, nor qualifiers that limit this command.
And the one man, who was hated among the Jews… did what was right. He cared for a broken and beaten human being who was in desperate need.
What I love about this story, is how Jesus chose a Samaritan to exemplify doing His good work. He identified someone on the fray- Christ honors HIS heart, HIS choice, HIS service, and condemns the others for neglecting what is most important to Him. Caring for his children. ALL of them.
Oh how this truth is powerful, and the message is clear. May we all stop our busy distracted lives to lift the wounded, tend to the weak, love the unlovable, serve those in need. No matter who they are, how ugly the situation is, or how broken and beaten down they appear.
Christians, we need to get our Holy hands dirty, and our sacred lives messy. We need to feel the burden of our Lord, when we open our view to see the broken and wounded, the weak and the lost. We need to stretch our comfortable places, and remove our fears, our judgments, our daily distractions-
And cross the road.
I expand my view to our global concerns. Who of us is not willing to open our arms to people across the world in need? From the far off places of atrocities, to our own back streets of homelessness… Are we turning our heads and looking away? Are we distracted, or fearful, or throwing judgment their way? Do we deem them unholy and refuse to get too near? Are the lost and broken unworthy of our compassion?
Christ’s heart is PASSIONATE for them.
Therefore, if our heart isn’t?
Then we have some praying to do.
Open up your hearts, your holy hands, and your sacred lives…
Christ’s calling us to cross the road.
There’s much work to do on the other side.
Are you a Good Samaritan?
What a great reminder Chrissy! Thanks for the encouragement to take hold of every opportunity to love our neighbors!
There are people EVERYWHERE that need His Love and Light… oh how I have walked by so many. I pray I obey His calling more often, instead of avoid or ignore those that He places in my path. What on EARTH could be that important?
I love seeing your comment Nik!!! Warms my heart and makes me smile… miss you and love you. 🙂
I loved our discussion that night and love your post. The challenge is set before us…
Go and do… ahh… so convicting and inspiring isn’t it? Still resonates so much for me…
I think I was a Good Samaritan for strangers before I had kids. Having kids has made me more fearful of the world. I question everything now. Will this stranger bring harm to me or my kids? Are they con artists or legitimately in need of help? I think my fears stop me from truly being a Good Samaritan. For people that I know that are in need, I think I give or try to give (sometimes people are unwilling to let others help) of myself or my time. I know this is not what Jesus had in mind and that I really need to trust in Him, let go of the fears and go back to being a true Good Samaritan. Great reminder!
Oh I totally get that AnnMarie!!! I am very very leery of strangers these days… it’s our world now. But I do wish I could help out more moms that struggle with groceries at the store, or I have seen older people having trouble loading their car… things like that- where I should take the time to STOP my own agenda and help. I do it with the kiddos- but not enough. I actually wrote a post a while ago and will probably publish it this week… that rings true with this message too.
I bet for the people you know and your own family, you are a true giver and caretaker and beautiful friend. I also totally agree that some people don’t accept help… that is SO true!!!
I am so convicted about helping other moms… that’s just my passion these days. Do you see them all? So many that look frazzled or confused… I need to take more time to approach them and give them some encouragement.
Beautiful post. It is so important to teach this lesson to our children. And to show them through our actions to help everyone.
EXACTLY!!! I love it when I am with my kiddos and we see some mom with too much to carry or an old man that can’t is having trouble in his little motorized cart, and my kids go “are we gonna help mom?” like they just know that’s what we do!!! BUT- I don’t do it enough. I pass by, ignore, dismiss, or am rude to many… THAT is where I stand convicted. I need to show my kids more of the good stuff!!!
another jennifer says
I think many of us want to be a Good Samaritan. As you said, it’s easy to get caught up in our own lives and look the other way when someone else is in need. Unfortunately, we also have to worry about our own safety at times. I do my best not to turn my head the other way. To do what I can. There’s always room for improvement though. This post gives me so much to think about!
I agree about safety and we need to be smart about our choices… but I keep thinking of the people I actually KNOW that I don’t invest enough time in helping, the calls I never get to and the people that I care about that are struggling and I don’t have enough time to get to help them through their difficult season. There are so many moms I see at recitals or school that I know I could help in some way, and I don’t take the time and energy to do it. I also stand convicted when I am at an appointment and someone strikes up a conversation in the waiting room… or gosh, even at the dentist last week, the hygienist went on and on and I finally told her I was in a hurry. Maybe she doesn’t have a lot of friends to talk to… those are just some examples of where I really feel convicted to stop and pay attention and serve more.
Good reminder. It is easy to help when it’s convenient, but I think it often goes by the wayside when our own lives are so hectic. Lot of food for thought here, as always! Many thanks for bringing this topic up.
Exactly Michelle! I am always in a hurry and buried with “things to get done” that I often either ignore people that are calling to talk or even dismiss other moms/friends/strangers that look like they need help with something. I was just helping out at my daughter’s recital this past weekend- and I can’t stop thinking about this mom I saw wandering and looking confused and nervous. Why didn’t I stop to help her? I had my own agenda is why. And now I sit here still thinking about her days later… I know God had different plans. He wanted to use me to encourage her… but I walked away. I stand convicted.
The aspect of this story that always struck me was that the Samaritan happened upon the man, and helped him. He wasn’t out looking for someone to help. This man was in his travels, and he acted upon the situation placed before him, whether by God or by chance.
That’s when it happens – when it is part of our path. What will we do when it’s in our path? I believe if we see the world as Jesus did, we’ll make the right decision every time.
What a wonderful series this is, Chris.
Oh this is such a great perspective Eli! Funny you said “I believe if we see the world as Jesus did, we’ll make the right decision every time”… when we were discussing this in group, my gut reaction was this:
If only I really plugged into God deeply every day, I would not only be aware of who He places on my path… but I would sense the need to help them, and “go and do”.
Seeing the world as Jesus does… that’s when we will always make the right decision.
You nailed it, my friend. 🙂
Julie Chenell DeNeen says
Sigh. Sometimes. If I were honest, I would say, “not enough.” But I try to remember that helping my family counts too…because quite frankly, they are sometimes the last people I want to help after a long day. great reminder Chris!
I hear ya Julie. I so often think of my family as my first ministry- ya know? And that is SO important!! But wow do I pass by so many that would use more of my attention. The calls I don’t pick up… the strangers that go on and on at the store that I try to avoid or honestly walk away from… the mom at the recital that looked lost and confused… etc etc etc. I feel the pang in my heart, knowing fully that I am to attend to them… but I don’t. I think what you do for a living is incredibly sacrificing and giving. You serve with honesty and devotion and loyalty. I believe that is significant in it’s own right, Julie.
Lord help me to really LOVE (in deed also) my neighbors. This is such a great reminder and conviction Chris. Sometimes we get so busy trying to meet the spiritual needs of people that we forget their physical needs. The word of God reminds us that whatever we do for the least of these, we do also to Him. Thank you Chris. I love these devotionals… although I don’t always comment on time, they are received right on time.
Oh Hope… I ALWAYS love your responses and there is NEVER a time limit on them!! I love that line: “The word of God reminds us that whatever we do for the least of these, we do also to Him.” What verse is that? I know I have seen it many times… Such a convicting message… Oh yes oh yes oh yes…
Thanks Chris. It’s Matt 25:40 (I think )
Thank YOU Hope… I want to memorize this verse! Keep it in my heart…
Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do.” … That is so telling isn’t it? I love that God calls us to the ACTION of our faith. It’s not just about knowing it, agreeing with it, memorizing it. It’s about doing it. Thanks for this today Chris… this is confirmation of a few things stirring in my spirit today. 😉
Oh that is so wonderful to hear Kari!!! I just love when God uses us to speak into each other’s hearts! Go and do… 🙂