Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan challenges us to change our thinking about what loving others truly means. A priest and a Levite, who supposedly have a close connection with God and His love, can’t find a reason to help a fellow countrymen who is at the brink of death. On the other hand, a Samaritan who shouldn’t have ONE reason to help, sacrifices income, time, and energy for a stranger.
Here are 5 things often forget about the Good Samaritan.
1. Being a good Samaritan starts with a changed heart.
It starts in our hearts, a heart that has been changed through the love of Christ for us, and a heart that sees other human beings: friends, enemies, people we know, people we don’t know, as neighbors. You can’t read this parable without thinking of how Jesus loved us, his bitter enemies, and rescued us from certain eternal death that we deserved. His unconditional love continues to help us as He provides for us spiritually and physically because that’s who He is. Considering His love for us, changes our hearts to love people as He does.
2. Being a good Samaritan means sacrifice.
The Good Samaritan didn’t take a picture of the beaten up Jew, share it on social media, and wait for the outrage. He actually did something that required sacrifice. Giving up his possessions to care for him, and then taking him to an inn, and handing more of his possessions over, required sacrifice. Helping someone else in the midst of our busy day means sacrifice. Whether it’s a car on the side of a road or a friend who needs time for us to listen to them, they need our time, and if our time is spoken for or we’ve wasted our time on ourselves, then how can we help? If you don’t think it’s your job because you don’t have the time, keep reading.
3. Being a good Samaritan is personal.
“Go and do likewise.” Jesus said at the end of this parable. When we see others in need, who should help them? The government? Some church program? Anybody but me? Jesus makes it personal for the expert in the law and for us. The expert was to “Go and do likewise.” So are we. Consider that being a good Samaritan is not the job of someone else like a church program or a government program, it’s yours. Thankfully, it was personal for Jesus. He didn’t wait for someone else to save you, He saved you. He is personally active in your life today too.
4. Being a good Samaritan activates our trust in God.
During the children’s devotion, I asked the kids whether it was easier to help someone you knew or easier to help someone you didn’t know? The kids said that it was harder to help someone you don’t know because you don’t know what they are going to do. This simple truth is in play whenever there is an opportunity to help someone in need. Is this going to hurt me? Am I better off just not helping? This requires trust that the God who provides and encourages you to love as He loved you, will be there for you when you actually do what He asks of you. Guess what, He never fails to keep His promises!
5. Being a good Samaritan earns nothing eternally.
The expert in the Law wanted Jesus to tell him what he had to do to get to heaven. Jesus directed him to the law, and told him to “do this, and you will live.” Do this… ALL THE TIME…no exceptions. The truth is, we cannot love our God and love our neighbor with the intensity and discipline that Jesus demands. Even our best effort to love our neighbor falls far short of the love Jesus has shown us. Thankfully, being a good Samaritan isn’t about us earning a place in heaven, but us being who God saved us to be, His children. His children showing His love so that others may know of their ultimate good Samaritan, Jesus.