A man was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, brutally beat him and left him for dead.
A priest happened to be going down the same road, saw the man in pain and passed by on the other side. A Levite man came by and when saw the man visibly in pain he too passed by on the other side.
But a when the Samaritan came down the road and saw the man in pain he took pity on him. He went to him, bandaged his wounds, and put the man on his donkey. He brought him to an inn and took care of him.
You probably know this story as the story of the good Samaritan. But do you know the meaning behind it? No not just helping people in need, do you know what it really means to be a good Samaritan?
Jesus told the parable in response to an expert of the law who questioned the verse, “love thy neighbor as thyself” by asking “And who is my neighbor?”.
I’m sure he wasn’t the first person to ask this question and he wasn’t the last. In fact, I would argue that many of us, including Christians, still struggle to discern who our neighbor is.
Most of us, when we think of a neighbor, imagine the person who lives next door that’s always having a party and leaving their trash outside our home the next morning. But a neighbor is more than that.
A neighbor doesn’t just entail our geographical placement to another human being but how we treat those we don’t even know. Being a neighbor requires that we be kind to others even if we don’t particularly like that person.
And though it’s hard to do, it’s something, especially we as Christians, need to work on. But how so?
Do good to those that hate you
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27)
In a time where there is so much tension between races, political leaders, and countries it’s hard to show anything short of disdain for one another.
Everyone is at odds, everyone is at each other’s throats, from the poor to the rich, from the powerless to those who hold high office.
Why can’t we all get along? Why can’t we be neighbors?
It’s easy to get along with someone who you is kind to you. If someone were to hold the door for you it’s easy to grab the next door for them in return.
But what about when that person doesn’t hold the door? When the tables are turned, will you repay them in the same manner? Or could you somehow find the strength to be a neighbor to them regardless of what they did in the past?
For many of us, this is a challenge even when we face a situation as simple as holding the door. But a much harder task is to love them in spite of what they did to us.
It’s even harder when we as Christians, are called by God to love our enemies. Not like them, love them.
That means regardless of what a person does to you-you should still love them. No matter how much they get on your nerves you should still love them.
Because it’s easy to love those who love you. But as Christians we are to do the hard thing; as Christians, we are to love our enemies.
Give to the needy, always
“Give to everyone who begs from you, and from the one who takes away your goods do not demand them back” (Luke 6:30).
When I read this verse I wish I had never opened my Bible.
I wanted to put it back on the bookshelf and erase from my memory of what I just read.
How could God expect me to give to EVERYONE who begs? How could he expect me to let someone take something from me that I worked so hard to get?
As you can imagine this task is hard for anyone to do. By nature, we are selfish people. We have a tendency to keep everything for ourselves and have a very low tolerance for people who ask of our possessions.
What gives someone the right to ask for something that doesn’t belong to them?
Nothing. They don’t have the right to have anything that belongs to us nor are we legally bound to give to them what does not belong to them.
But as Christians, we have an obligation to give to those who are in need of it, especially when we have the power to do so.
Christ evens says that “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me [Jesus]” (Matthew 25: 40).
Just like the good Samaritan, if we are able to bless the life of another why should we deny them of a blessing solely because it’s of no convenience to us?
As followers of Christ, we don’t give to others in hopes of getting something in return. As followers of Christ, we do not participate in quid pro quos.
As followers of Christ, we give to those who cannot benefit us in any way. We give because it is our duty as disciples of Christ to do so.
“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
As disciples lets make sure that character is one of God.
The Golden Rule
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12)
The golden rule is taken too lightly.
We all know it but for some strange reason, we have a difficult time with the application of the rule.
“If you want to be respected you have to show respect” is a saying I’ve heard many times.
But why should another person be the first to show respect? Why do we constantly expect others to be the bigger man and bow their heads as an act of homage before we can give them the slightest bit of human respect?
The golden rule is not about respect, or simply treating others how we would want to be treated, the rule is about empathy.
The golden rule is about understanding those around us and treating them not how we would want to be treated but how they want to be treated.
If we are truly following the golden rule we will use empathy to guide our decisions in the way we treat people. We will view the world from their eyes and temporarily adopt their beliefs, attitudes, and dreams in order to understand them before taking action.
Too many times people take the wrong action out of good intentions because they are not cognizant of the beliefs, attitudes, and aspirations of the person they are interacting with.
It’s not because they are insensitive, it’s that they didn’t take the time to understand the other person.
To follow the golden rule and be a neighbor requires that we not only treat others the way we want to be treated but how they want to be treated as well.
It demands that we use empathy to understand those around us and see the world the way they see it in order to be the best Christian neighbors we possibly can.
Thanks for reading.