In this lesson, we’re going to look at the story of the Good Samaritan. In our Old Testament stories, we’re seeing that lack of concern for others was a huge issue both the northern and southern kingdoms had, and, in Jesus’ time, this was no different.
Who Is My Neighbor?
In Luke 10, Jesus is questioned, “Who is my neighbor?” Who am I to act neighborly toward? Who is included in my kindness and my caring? In response to this, Jesus tells a story that we are very familiar with regarding a man assaulted on the Jericho road – an often steep, winding path on which it was easy to take others by surprise.
We know of the priest and Levite who avoid the assaulted individual, but this Samaritan (considered heretical half-breeds by the Jews of the time) took compassion and helped. Jesus asks, “Who proved to be the neighbor?” Then He concludes, “Go and do likewise.”
When opportunities to help arise, do we find excuses to avoid involvement? These passers-by may have had similar excuses:
- “It’s more prudent to avoid helping. He may be faking.”
- “I may end up in the same problem if I stop and help.”
- “I may be accused of the crime while I am trying to help.”
All three of these excuses are legitimate lines of reasoning. They are probable, but none were the case in this example. The one who had the most reasons to avoid helping, stopped and acted as a neighbor.
Galatians 6:9-10 encourages us to avoid discouragement in doing good and that all should be recipients of our kindness as we have opportunity, especially other Christians. None should be excluded from our compassion or helpfulness.
In James 2:8, this concept is called a royal law just as Jesus paired it as the greatest commandment with loving and following God. James says we do well to fulfill this law. However, it can be easy to ignore or even take advantage of others. Do we pass by “on the other side?” Are we full of reasons not to help despite the one big reason to help, or do we just tune out opportunities we might see?
As Christians, compassion should be a part of our lives, and we should act on that compassion. The Samaritan took the time to stop and help. He shared of his possessions to make sure this individual was helped. He was like those of Matthew 25 who inconvenienced self to make life easier for others.
We cannot tune out those opportunities to help others. We can always do more than we are specifically asked. We can find opportunities if we open our ears and our eyes to look for them. Additionally, this applies to spiritual needs we see around us. In I Peter 2:9, we are asked to reveal God’s excellence in ourselves. Not only are we to look out for each other’s physical needs, but we are to also be mindful of the spiritual needs of our friends and neighbors.
lesson by Tim Smelser