5 Ways to be Today’s Good Samaritan

Neighbors come from surprising places.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan encourages us to be neighbors with anyone in need who is made in God’s image.

So, you and I are accountable to love our neighbor – anyone made in the image of God. Here are five ways you and I can be Good Samaritans today.

1. We should be aware of our neighbor.

Like the Samaritan, we should pay attention to those we pass. We should be aware of their needs. This requires attentiveness and compassion. Awareness helps you and I identify a neighbor’s needs and recognize how we can provide assistance.

2. We should be willing to come to our neighbors.

There were three travelers who came upon the injured man in Jesus’ parable, but only one was willing to take the risk to come to the man. We have many neighbors with needs, and approaching them can be risky. We risk our neighbor slapping our extended hand with no interest in our help. We risk driving our neighbor away. We also risk being hurt by our neighbor.

Approaching our neighbor may place us in a vulnerable place and may result in heartbreak. This is a risk Christians should be willing to take. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “I will gladly spend myself and all I have for you even though it seems that the more I love you the less you love me” (2 Corinthians 12:15). Jesus was willing to be hurt to help us. Isaiah 53:6 says, “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own, yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.” Coming to our neighbor is a risky move, but the profit of being able to help him or her is great.

3. We should be willing to serve our neighbor.

We should be open to opportunities to serve. This may be checking on a neighbor, seeing if we can pick up something at the store, helping them find transportation to an appointment, or just listening to identify their needs. We should strive to serve our neighbors in the same way Jesus served those around him.

4. We should invest generously in our neighbors.

The Samaritan invested in the man’s recovery. The IVP New Testament Commentary calculates his investment to equal three and a half weeks of time for the injured man to recover. This would have been approximately two days’ wages. The Samaritan acted generously toward the man’s needs.

Our generosity can go a long way in meeting our neighbors’ needs. When we are in a position to be generous, the Bible encourages us to give freely.

5. We should follow up with our neighbors.

Meeting an immediate need and walking away may be helpful, but it is not the best approach. The Samaritan met the man’s initial needs, but we can also assume he followed up to ensure the man healed and the innkeeper was fully compensated. We too should follow up with our neighbors in an effort to fully meet their needs. This helps show we truly care for them.

We live in a society filled with needs, and as Good Samaritans, we should not pass by on the other side; rather, we should work to help our neighbors. After all, we are the hands and feet of Christ, and it is through our actions his grace and mercy shine brightly in a crooked and depraved generation.

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Which character are you?

3 Travelers, 1 Neighbor

Jesus uses a parable to illustrate a true neighbor. In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus places us on a 17-mile stretch of road between Jerusalem and Jericho. Descending sharply toward the Jordan River just north of the Dead sea, this especially dangerous patch of road curved through rugged, rocky terrain. It made an excellent hiding place for thieves. The IVP New Testament Commentary compares this stretch of road to the inner city late at night, and Josephus recorded travelers would carry weapons to protect themselves in this region.

Jesus says a man was traveling this road and fell into the hands of robbers, who left him “half dead.” Luke 10:31-32 goes on, “A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.” These three men were all Jews, so according to the Lawyer’s definition, the priest and Levite should have acted as a neighbor to the man lying on the road.

However, they acted contrarily, passing by on the other side. This may have been to keep themselves ceremonially clean. Culture dictated one’s shadow could not even come in contact with a dead body, or one would become ritually unclean. They may have ignored the man out of concern for personal safety. What if the robbers were still around? They may have chosen not to check, thinking there was nothing they could do for the man. In short, the priest and Levite made excuses so they did not have to get involved in the man’s affairs.

“But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was and when he saw him, he took pity on him.” This Samaritan acted mercifully toward the man lying on the road. He bandaged the man’s wounds, served the man by placing him on his donkey, and made sure the man was cared for until he healed.

A Samaritan is the last person the lawyer would have considered a neighbor. In fact, Jesus may have stunned his listeners with this character. Much hostility existed between the Jews and Samaritans. John 4:9 says the hostility was so great the two groups would not even share dishes. Scholars are not confident when the hostility began.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary points out, “The history of the Samaritans is uncertain. Many hold that they were a mixed race since the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel. The king of Assyria deported the leaders of Israel, among them the religious teachers, and replaced them with foreigners. From that time on, the inhabitants of the northern kingdom received no further prophetic instruction, nor did they recognize God’s revelation to the southern kingdom. The Samaritans were a fringe segment of the Jewish world for which Jesus and Luke had a concern.”

No matter the root of the hostility, the fact this Samaritan acted as a neighbor would have turned the stomach of the lawyer. He had a preconceived notion that he could not be a neighbor to a Samaritan. The expert in the law would not even say the word “Samaritan.”

Jesus continued by asking, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’ The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.”

Jesus’ definition of neighbor is anyone with whom we come in contact. Geographic location, socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity, and culture are mute points in determining a neighbor.

The IVP New Testament Commentary remarks, “Jesus point is simply be a neighbor. Do not rule out certain people as neighbors and his parable makes the point emphatically by providing a model from a group the lawyer had probably excluded as possible neighbors. To love God means to show mercy to those in need. An authentic life is found in serving God and caring for others. This is a central tenet of discipleship. Here human beings fulfill their creative role, to love God and be a neighbor to others by meeting their needs. Neighbors are not determined by race, creed, or gender. Neighbors consist of anyone in need made in the image of God.”

Which character in Jesus’ parable best represents you? Are you the neighbor who passes by or the Samaritan?

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Who is my neighbor?

A challenge to the status quo.

A crowd was gathered, and Jesus was teaching. In an effort to find fault with Jesus’ doctrine, a lawyer stood up to ask a question. “Teacher,” he asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:26).

This is a good question. Many have pondered the answer. Jesus replies to the expert in the law by requesting his answer. Luke 10:27 says, “He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.” This was a good answer to a good question.

The lawyer’s summation of the law was correct; loving one’s neighbor is a natural outgrowth of loving God, so these two commandments go hand-in-hand. Perhaps, he believed he measured up well, especially with loving God. From his viewpoint, the law expert did okay in loving his neighbor, so the conversation continued with another question.

“But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). There it is, the issue of accountability. The lawyer needed to justify his actions, so he needed a definition to know who he was accountable to love.

Perhaps we can relate; Scripture tells us to love our neighbor, but what exactly is meant by that decree? Neighbor is defined as a near person or place, so we automatically assign the title to individuals living next door, across the street, or in the adjoining apartment. We wonder if more is meant by neighbor than those with whom we have close contact.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary points out the expert in the law had a narrow view of neighbors to mean “fellow Jews and proselytes.” Jesus redefines the term, and in doing so, challenges the lawyer’s understanding of neighbors, and ours too.

Jesus Redefines Neighbors

Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan. A Jewish man was traveling and was attacked by robbers, who left the man to die. Two fellow Jews passed by and ignored the man in need, but a Samaritan came upon the scene and came to the man’s rescue. The Samaritan tended to the man’s wounds, and made sure he had what was needed to heal.

The parable forces the conclusion the Samaritan was truly the man’s neighbor. By definition, the two Jews who passed by should have acted neighborly, and the Samaritan should have passed by. The one least likely to be the neighbor acted in love.

Jesus defined neighbor as anyone with whom we come in contact, and this revolutionized the lawyer’s thinking. Samaritan’s were despised by Jews, so for the lawyer to see this man as a neighbor was hard. But a neighbor is anyone with whom we interact.

You and I interact with a variety of people. They come from all walks of life, and may not share our same political views. Yet, Jesus gives us a challenge to love our neighbor as ourselves. How well do we measure up? Do we intentionally show our neighbors love?

Love Endures

Love conquers all.

Dear Hate by Maren Morris is a powerful reminder of hate’s grip and love’s conquering power.

The battle between hate and love has existed since Adam and Eve were in the garden. The disgusting work of hate ensnares us, but love has the power to conquer everything. Love conquers the divides between people, love heals the wounds inflicted by hate, and love mends the broken heart. Love has the power to overcome anything hate throws our way.

1 Corinthians 13:6-8 says, “Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

The Bible gives us a glimpse into the end of the battle between hate and love. Love conquers all. God is love and nothing has the power to stand in his way. His grace and mercy will win.

Meanwhile, as the battle rages, you and I have the challenge to be messengers of love.

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Unity

The labor of unity.

Intending to raise cattle, a New York family purchased a ranch in Kansas. They could not agree on the name of the ranch, and when a family friend visited, the would-be rancher explained the disagreement.

“I wanted to name the ranch the Barr J, my wife favored the Susie Q, one of our sons wanted the Flying W, and the other son preferred the Lazy Y,” explained the rancher, “so we named it the Barr J Susie Q Flying W Lazy Y Ranch.”

The friend asked, “Where are all your cattle?”

“They did not survive the branding,” stated the rancher.

Disagreement usually brings about disaster, while unity brings peace. In Ephesians 4, Paul implores us to labor for unity in love.

“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.”

As Christians, our attitude should be one of humility, patience, and gentleness. When we see others hurting, we should have a desire to act. Our actions should bring with them meaningful results.

Max Lucado asks, “Is your attitude toward other believers marked by love, humility, patience, and gentleness? Paul encouraged us to display unity in the body of Christ and accept one another in love. If you are not doing that, check your attitudes. Your spiritual gifts and talents should help bring the body of Christ together.”

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Thanks Mama!

The hand that rocks the cradle moves the world.

Somebody said that a child is carried in his or her mother’s womb for nine months. Somebody does not know that a child is carried in his or her mother’s heart for a lifetime.

Somebody said it takes about six weeks to get back to normal after you have had a baby. Somebody does not know that once you are a mother, normal is history.

Somebody said you learn how to be a mother by instinct. Somebody never took a 3-year-old shopping.

Somebody said being a mother is boring. Somebody never rode in a car driven by a teenager with a learner’s permit.

Somebody said good mothers never raise their voices. Somebody never came out the back door just in time to see her son hit a golf ball through the neighbor’s window.

Somebody said you do not need an education to be a mother. Somebody never helped her daughter with distance learning.

Somebody said you cannot love all your kids the same. Somebody does not have kids.

Somebody said a mother can find all the answers in books. Somebody has never had a child stuff beans up his nose.

Somebody said the hardest part of motherhood is giving birth. Somebody never watched her child get on the bus for the first day of Kindergarten.

Somebody said a mother can stop worrying after her child gets married. Somebody does not know marriage only adds a child to the mother’s family.

Somebody said a mother’s job is finished when her last child leaves home. Somebody never had grandchildren.

Somebody said you never need to tell your mother you love her. Somebody is not a mother.

To mothers everywhere, we say thank you!

For the sleepless nights, thank you.

For the stressful days, thank you.

For everything you do day after day, thank you.

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A Mother’s Love

“All that I am my mother made me,” remarked John Quincy Adams.

An angel was sent down from Heaven with the assignment to bring back earth’s 3 most beautiful gifts. The angel picked a rose as one. The second was a baby’s smile. The angel was searching for the third, and he was so impressed by a mother’s sacrificial love for her son, he chose it as number three.

When the angel returned to Heaven, he discovered the rose had withered, the baby’s smile went away, but the mother’s love was still there.

There is nothing more beautiful than a mother’s love. The sacrifice, the enduring love which never fades is beautiful. As the old song says, “Thank God for mothers.”

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woman and girl painting

3 Ways God Views Us

When God looks at us, what does he see?

The picture wasn’t much. It was a hand drawn sketch of what was supposed to be a dog. It had a few oddly placed stickers around the dog, and there was really no theme or artistic thought given to the picture. Most everyone would look at the picture and declare it trash, but in the eye of the recipient, it was a beautiful work of art.

The recipient was a mom and the picture created by her daughter, making it a masterpiece worthy of hanging on the refrigerator. No one else saw the beauty. No one else saw the potential, but the mom did. She did because it was her daughter.

The same can be said about our lives from the Lord’s perspective. No one else may see the beauty. No one else may see the potential, but the Lord does. In his sight, our lives are a masterpiece by his grace.

Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

In his grace, the Lord overcomes the messiness of our lives. He looks past all the dirt to see our heart, our potential, and our purpose.

When the Lord looks at us, here is what he sees.

A Masterpiece

He sees the shattered pieces of our lives put back together in his grace. The result is a beautiful mosaic in his sight.

A person with a purpose

You and I are not just aimlessly wondering through life. The Lord has a purpose for the mosaic he has created. The Bible reminds us the Lord has plans for us. Plans to give us hope and a future.

A person who can do some amazing work

The purpose the Lord has for us is awesome and will leave behind a lasting and beautiful legacy.

Acting

Ask the Lord to help you view yourself as he views you.

Firm Foundation

“The house don’t fall when the bones are good.”

The Lord’s truth often shows up in song lyrics. Our ears are hearing and our hearts absorbing valuable truth that can help in life.

Maren Morris’ The Bones packs a valuable truth into a cool song. The story has love holding a romantic relationship together in adversity, but the idea of having a firm foundation can help all aspects of life.

The Bible tells a parable about two men who built houses. One man built his house on the sand, while the other dug through the sand to place his foundation on the rock. A storm came, and the plain flooded. The house sitting on the sand was wiped away, while the house resting on the rock remained standing. It stayed in place because of its foundation; its bones were good.

Life has its storms. They are unavoidable. The difficulties of life will strain our marriages, families, friendships, and business partnerships; however, those relationships will stay intact if they are built on a solid foundation.

The Bones reminds us to build on a solid foundation. Where are you building?

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a stack of folded newspapers

Offering Grace

She’s on a journey to forgive her rapist.

She forgave the teenagers who mutilated her face.

They forgave the man who slaughtered their children.

These are certainly attention-grabbing headlines, and they start telling the stories of horrific pain and tremendous loss, but they do more. We are not only captivated by the heart wrenching tragedy but the victim’s response.

Each of these stories is an incredible illustration of grace. Each victim offers forgiveness to an individual who did the unthinkable. In turn, serving as an illustration to us.

As Christians, we are encouraged to offer forgiveness, and C. S. Lewis says, “Everyone believes forgiveness is a grand idea until he has something to forgive.” Forgiving can be one of the hardest things you and I are asked to do, but it can also be one of the most liberating.

I’m far from perfect, and I do not have this part of the Christian journey completely figured out. I was encouraged to explore it some more by these stories, and I hope you are as well.

She’s on a journey of forgiveness after rape.

Beverly had a supposed friend who worked for the state. He requested some of her time, and they scheduled an appointment. Entering Beverly’s home under the façade of needing her time, the man took much more than her time; he raped her.

He successfully denied and covered up the act, and he continued to move up the political ladder. Beverly would see him on the news, encounter him at parties, and would be upset.

Two years after the rape, Beverly met a friend who told her of Christ’s forgiveness and protection. Beverly decided to accept Christ’s invitation of grace and begin the journey of maximizing Christ in her life and healing from the hurt caused by the rapist. The Journey may not be completed, but it is started. Beverly’s story is told in Facing Your Giants.

She forgave the teenagers who mutilated her face.

Victoria Ruvolo was on her way home in November 2004. She was returning home after attending a family member’s recital, and it was late, and driving was a little difficult because of the freezing rain. The car she was about to pass may have caught her attention, but she doesn’t remember. The teenage boy hanging out the window may have caught her attention, but again, she does not remember. Nor does she remember seeing the 20-pound frozen turkey the boy was holding in his hand.

The boy launched the turkey at Victoria’s car, smashing her windshield, bending the steering wheel inward, and breaking every bone in her face. Victoria’s face suffered extensive damage and had to be completely restructured.

It took an 8-hour surgery and 3-week hospital stay to even begin the road to recovery. While Victoria was recovering, the wheels of justice were spinning, and the public was voicing outrage at the crime.

Fast forward to August 2005 and enter the court room. The young man who launched the turkey pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and received a sentence of 6 months behind bars, 5 years’ probation, community service, and counseling. The lenient sentence is given at the request of Victoria.

She too was in the court room, and after the hearing, Victoria and the young man came face to face. Both sobbing, Victoria said, I forgive you. I want your life to be all it can be.” The pain and agony caused to Victoria was met with grace and mercy. Victoria’s story is told in Captured by Grace.

They forgave the man who slaughtered their children.

In October 2006, a gunman entered a one-room Amish schoolhouse and ordered the teacher, teacher’s assistant, and boys to leave. The 10 girls in the class were left alone with the gunman. He covered the windows and was planning for a long siege, but as state police officers surrounded the schoolhouse, he shot the girls and killed himself. 5 girls died, and the other 5 were severely wounded. This was not the only part of the story which made headlines though.

The Amish community publicly forgave the gunman. They befriended the gunman’s wife and children. Marie Monville, the gunman’s wife, recalls to CNN the community showered her family with gifts. They waived at her on the way to the bus stop, and they even attended her husband’s funeral. The families, who were victims of a heinous and unthinkable act, offered grace. Monville tells her story in One Light Still Shines.

Acting

As I mentioned, I do not have forgiveness completely figured out. The individuals in these stories are true illustrations of offering grace to one another, and they encourage me to explore offering forgiveness. I hope they do you as well.

Join me in learning the act of forgiveness and experiencing the liberation it brings.

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