Sometimes we put this enormously high standard on being a good person or being a good christian. What I mean is we see a missionary doing what they’re called to do and we think “Wow they’re amazing, I could never do what they are doing!” However, you don’t have to be a missionary in another country in order to do what God calls us all to do. We are all called to be aware of those around us that are in need, in need of love, mercy, forgiveness, and also those that need a true saving faith. It doesn’t take a superhuman act of kindness to change someone’s day or life, it just takes a text, a note, a call, or a simple gift to remind someone else that we love them and care for them.
Taking a look at a story that you all are very familiar with, but it's lessons are great reminders! In Luke 10:25-37, Jesus is teaching a group of people and you guess it, a teacher of law was present and attempting to catch Jesus saying something erroneous. Starting in verse 25, the teacher of the law “puts Jesus to the test.” The Greek word “test” here means testing with evil motives. From the word test we know this man had bad intentions in challenging Jesus, but let’s look at how Jesus responds to the man. Jesus doesn’t get angry or nasty with the man, despite his obvious intentions, instead Jesus listens to the man’s question and asks him what his opinion is. We could stop there and learn enough from Jesus’s response to apply it to our everyday life. Jesus shows us here an important formula when engaging with someone who clearly is against you, despite someone’s motives, we can listen to them and ask them their opinion.
Hindsight is always 20/20 as they say. It is easy to ridicule and point out the mistakes of this lawyer, but before we jump to that, let’s look at ourselves first. Verse 29 states that he wanted to justify himself by asking who his neighbor is. How many times do we try to justify ourselves and our actions?
In this time period, the Jews interpreted the call to love your neighbor as just a call to love their fellow Jews. Jesus, knowing this was the case, tells a story that a Samaritan was actually the hero. Self-righteous Jews during the time of Jesus, couldn’t stand Samaritans so much so, that they would never travel through Samaria. This would not be a fun story for the teacher and he gives that away at the end. Jesus asks, “Who was the victim’s neighbor?”
The teacher cannot even say the word Samaritan, but instead just says, “The one who shows him mercy.” Jesus clearly wanted to provoke the man to come to the conclusion on his own, that anyone, even a Samaritan, is the lawyer’s neighbor.
Jesus provides us with a great example of how to handle someone who is trying to come against you. Just like Jesus, we should remain calm, listen, and ask good questions for the person to be able to listen to your opinion. Rarely, will someone hear you when you respond in anger.
I love this quote from Martin Luther King Jr. about the story of the Good Samaritan: "I imagine that the first question the priest and Levite asked was: 'If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?' But by the very nature of his concern, the good Samaritan reversed the question: 'If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”
Questions to consider about this story:
When have you been the priest, the levite, or the good Samaritan? When you see someone in need, how do you respond?
How will you respond the next time someone tries to argue or initiate conflict?
Is there someone in your life right now that needs you to be their Good Samaritan?