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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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?

a high angled shot of a neighborhood

Neighbors First

Neighbors first mindset is modeled by Jesus.

Thursday of Passion Week has two events where we see Jesus placing others first amid much tension.

First, Jesus and his disciples are in the upper room partaking in the Passover meal. They are about to eat, but no one has washed feet. This was a dirty job reserved for the lowest servant in the household, but none of the disciples bothered to do it. Perhaps because they were too busy arguing about being the greatest. It could have been the disciples were so involved in themselves they forgot about washing feet. Jesus, on the other hand, did not.

He wrapped a towel around his waist and washed his disciple’s feet. This would have been upside down logic in the disciples’ minds. They should have been the ones washing Jesus’ feet. Nevertheless, Jesus serves them. He places their needs above his own.

Jesus would have had a lot on his mind in the upper room. He knew what was getting ready to take place. He knew of his betrayal, his arrest, and his crucifixion, yet he served his disciples. Though carrying a heavy load, himself, Jesus was concerned about the needs of his disciples. Jesus had a neighbors first mindset.

Second, Jesus was praying in the garden. He requested some of his disciples keep watch, but they kept falling asleep. In his anguish, Jesus could have scolded the disciples, but he didn’t. He told them to pray for themselves. Jesus had a neighbors first mindset.

We know this was an excruciating time for Jesus. The Bible records Jesus sweating drops of blood as he was agonizing over the cross; however, his mindset remained neighbors first.

You and I find a challenge in these events. We should strive to have a neighbors first mindset. This Easter season may be different than any other in our lifetime. Many of us our carrying heavy loads as we navigate through an uncommon time. This is more reason to have a neighbors first mindset.

By having a neighbors first mindset, you and I can help one another get through this historical time. We can check on one another, pick up supplies for one another, and encourage one another. All this can be done while maintaining social distance, and a neighbors first mindset does make a difference.

Just ask Amy McDonald. Amy was headed to the store a few days ago, and she stopped to check on an elderly neighbor. The neighbor needed groceries, so Amy obtained the list. She stopped at two stores and returned with the requested items, but something seemed wrong.

Amy spent some time with her neighbor, and it turns out the lady was having a heart attack. She was having what is known as the “Widow Maker.” Amy was able to call EMS and the neighbor’s daughter. A life was saved because Amy had a neighbors first mindset.

Here’s more folks with a neighbors first mindset.

We find in the events of Passion Week’s Thursday a challenge to adopt a neighbors first mindset. This mindset makes a difference. Amy’s neighbors first mindset saved a life. What will your neighbors first mindset do today?

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a crowd of people walking

10 Practical Ways to Imitate Compassion

His occupation is beggar, and he has secured a prime spot. The road he sits beside each day is heavily traveled, and it is one of the best spots to be a beggar. He hears the stories about Jesus as he sits there; the stories of Jesus healing people and performing all kinds of miracles, and he wonders if Jesus could help him.

One day the traffic is unusually heavy. At first, he thinks it will be a large collection day. All those people in town would result in much more given. It turns out it is an extraordinary day. Jesus is in town, and now is his shot.

So, Bartimaeus starts shouting for Jesus to have mercy on him. People around him tell him to shut up, but he shouts more until Jesus hears him.

Jesus stops, calls Bartimaeus, and heals his eye condition. Jesus has compassion on him.

We live in a world filled with hurt. There is much need for compassion, and the Lord is compassionate. We are encouraged to imitate his compassion, so here is the picture of what we are to imitate and practical ways we can be imitators. Here are a few more times Jesus demonstrates his compassion.

The Lord is compassionate.

Luke 7 records Jesus and his disciples entering a town. As they were approaching the gate, a dead man was being carried out. The man’s mother, a widow, was following him overwhelmed with sorrow. Luke says, “When Jesus saw her, his heart went out to her.” He was so moved by compassion it drove him to action. Jesus raised her son.

Mark 1:40-42 records a man with leprosy coming to request help from Jesus. Mark tells us Jesus was moved by the situation. Jesus became angry at the man’s situation. He was not angry with the man, but the man’s situation. He healed the man, and Mark says, “immediately, the man’s leprosy left him. Jesus was so moved by compassion that it drove him to action.

Jesus doesn’t just feel sorry for folks. His compassion drives him to action. It drives him to do something about their situation. When Jesus sees people hurting, he takes steps to help them.

So what?

We are encouraged to show compassion as Jesus shows compassion.

Luke 6:36 says, “Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate.”

Acting

Here are 10 practical ways you and I can show compassion.

  1. Pray for those in need.
  2. Volunteer at a food pantry.
  3. Volunteer at a homeless shelter.
  4. Provide transportation to a neighbor in need.
  5. Offer to pick up groceries or a prescription for a neighbor who has difficulty getting out of her home.
  6. Volunteer with a relief organization to do local projects.
  7. Check on a neighbor to make sure he is doing okay during an extreme weather event.
  8. Try to have a conversation with someone who seems lonely.
  9. Send a card or encouraging note to a friend you know is struggling.
  10. Offer a bit of grace to someone.

How are you going to show compassion today?

What are some other ways we can show compassion?

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