Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Good Samaritan

I'd credit the artist if I knew them.

Let's look at the Good Samaritan.
Luke 10:30-37 NKJV
Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”
And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

The Bible is an interesting document. There are layers of meaning interlaced through the whole thing. It almost makes me believe in the Bible Code concept… But I digress.

On the surface, the story of the Good Samaritan is about defining our neighbor. I've heard some Pastors say that the story means everyone is our neighbor. I disagree.

It is the people we meet in our lives. The Samaritan was going about his business. He wasn't going out of his way to meet new people, and he certainly wasn't seeking out Jews to befriend. Yet in his daily travels he met a person in need. Unlike the ones who talked a good game (the priest and the Levite), the Samaritan's heart was moved with pity for his fellow man.

He didn't kneel down and ask what religion the man was. This man was stripped and beaten half-dead, so I suspect you couldn't tell if he was Samaritan, Jew or Gentile. He was simply a man in need.
We help family when we can. That's what family does.

We help people w ho help us back. That's human nature. Quid pro quo, tit for tat, reciprocity. "It's the right thing to do," says your mother. "They helped us, we help them."

The Samaritan helped someone who could not reciprocate. God (Jesus) did the same for us - gave us a gift we cannot repay. Helping others who cannot repay us is imitating God.

Do we ask their religion first? I think not. Do we convince them that our religion is right? The Samaritan never even raises the issue - he simply helps the man in need.

A few things to note, then I'll let you go.

The Samaritan was going about his business - and he continued to do so. He simply added this one small service to his agenda. He had places to go, and he did so.

He didn't question the hurting man's race or religion or personal values. Really, for all he knew the hurt man was a mean man whose friends got tired of him. He didn't ask. He didn't do it for the man (the man never thanks him in the story). He did it because it was the right thing to do and it heart was moved.

The Pastor followed it up with a quote from the NLT of the Bible that makes me laugh when I read it. Galatians 6:3 "If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important." (I knew that!)

(Okay, before your feathers ruffled, it doesn't say you are not important - it says you're not more important than anyone else. God loves us all, regardless of our faults.)

I'm not saying that we are always equipped to help someone. If you have a computer problem, give me a call; I might be able to help. Want me to cry with you - uhm, can I get Darling for that? 1 Peter 4:10 "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others!" Yeah, sorry. Crying with you isn't usually my gift. I'll sit with you, though.

I'm also not saying to help everyone.

Ooooo. What did I just say? I can hear church people picking up rocks to throw at me. Look, the fact is that some people are just out there to get what they can from others. When my youngest brother was a deacon he investigated the people that asked for money from the church. Quite a few of them did not have the financial issues they claimed. (He was chastised for checking!) How do you know the difference? I suggest prayer and do what your heart tells you, but be cautious. You know when someone is truly in need. You can pretty much tell when someone is taking advantage of you. If not, ask for advice.

Here's the bottom line:
Saved People Serve People. It's what we're supposed to do.

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