Summary: The story of the Samaritan and his compassion is instructive for us to consider how we treat our neighbors.
LOVE THY NEIGHBOR: Loving your neighbor is not difficult as long as you get to define “neighbor.”
- Luke 10:29.
- We often define “neighbor” as those we like and who like us back. People like us who we are comfortable around.
- Further, we define “love” cheaply: liking a post, offering a passing word of encouragement, attending a one-hour event to support a cause, feeling sympathy toward someone. That’s pretty shallow “love.”
- We are called to what might be termed “inconvenient love.”
- That is, love that pushes us out of our comfort zone. Love that asks more of us than the slightest of sacrifices.
WHAT LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOR LOOKED LIKE TO JESUS:
1. Loving when it’s costly in crossing boundaries.
- We like people like us.
- Here, though, it is the hated outsider Samaritan who crosses a boundary. In doing that, Jesus teaches us that our man-made divisions are not a good enough excuse for Him.
- Who might be across the boundary for us?
a. The addict?
b. The person from the hated side of the family?
c. The annoying neighbor?
d. The dirt poor person?
e. The person who works a lowly job at your workplace?
2. Loving when it’s costly emotionally.
- Luke 10:33.
- It tells us that the Samaritan “took pity” on him. He was moved emotionally.
- It’s easily to suffer from “compassion fatigue.” We see enough needs around us that we get numb to it. We start to ignore people.
- It’s also easier to just click on a Facebook page or to throw a couple dollars in a hat than it is to get emotionally invested in someone.
3. Loving when it’s costly in money.
- What the Samaritan does for this man is substantial financially, especially the final promise.
- It’s easy for us to be willing to give a little, especially if it’s an amount that requires no sacrifice on our part. It’s another issue, though, to help someone when it costs us something.
4. Loving when it’s costly in time.
- A similar issue is here on time. The Samaritan’s help takes a while. He bandages him up, loads him up, finds a safe place to leave him, and promises to return to check in.
- Our time is valuable these days. Most of us are busy. Many of us would be quicker to give up our money than to give up our time. But time commitments are necessary sometimes.
- Let’s take an example: we have a co-worker who is struggling in her marriage and needs a sincere friend to listen to her and give guidance. What if it’s not one fifteen-minute conversation but twenty lunch hours over the next year? Lunch hours that we’d rather spend relaxing and decompressing than hearing the same stories again?
WHY IT MATTERS SO MUCH: This is the path to life.
- We’ve been concentrating on the Good Samaritan story, but let’s go back for a moment to the discussion that occasioned the story. Jesus is asked about eternal life and the discussion leads to the two greatest commandments. Jesus praises the answer and says that following those commands will lead to life.
- Too often we focus our religion on “me and God” and presume that my relationships with those around me are separate. But this exchange is a reminder to us just how important those horizontal relationships are.
A FIRST STEP: Am I willing to touch them?
- Luke 10:34.
- One of the most lasting images from all of Jesus’ parables is the image of the two religious leaders passing by on the other side of the road from this half-dead man. Equally arresting is the picture of the Samaritan being willing to bandage his wounds.
- When I ask if you are willing to touch them, I don’t necessarily mean physically, although there are certainly situations where we need to do that. It could also being willing to going to them and listening to their struggles. It could be coming beside them to walk through their struggle. It could be helping them with the things they need to do and in so doing lightening their load.
- As you think of those around you and who you are going to count as your neighbor, are you willing to help them in their struggle?
- And perhaps the starting point is simply a willingness to touch their lives.