“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 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. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’”
Jesus told us this parable in response to the question, “who is my neighbor?” I believe it is also an example of how we as followers of Christ should treat others and how the Church should serve society.
The man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho is every human. We are all on a journey. The robbers are forces of evil that come to steal, kill, and destroy any good they see. They prey upon the innocent and unsuspecting and usually target those traveling alone. How often do we overlook the wounded as we hurry on our way from one place to another? I know I do too often.
I feel challenged to look at others from a new perspective and to see not their outward appearance, but to gaze deeper into their hearts to discern wounds that need care. And when God shows me someone’s wounds, what will I do? Will I look away and pass by on the other side? Or will I be brave and enter their story by offering what care I can?
The Good Samaritan shows us how to help the hurting:
- Show compassion for their hurts, don’t pass judgment as you pass by
See the people around you. Have compassion for everyone for we are all traveling unknown paths, and we are all in danger of the robbers who wait along the road. We don’t know their history, we don’t know their future, but God knows all things.
- Attend to their wounds by listening, caring, and offering hope by directing them to Jesus
This can be a simple smile or momentary act of kindness. We are not called to go “all-in” on every interaction, but we are called to express love in every interaction. Oftentimes, it is the small things that make a big difference.
- Invest your own time and resources into their lives
When God does call you to step into someone’s life by investing more of yours, answer and be willing to be a conduit that God can use to reach His lost sheep. Walk prayerfully into this matter and make sure you are submitting to God. He may be inviting you to give more, but listen to any warnings to step away. Only God can see a person’s heart and only He knows the future. Be willing to give whatever God calls you to give, and let Him lead as you decide what resources and help to offer.
- Take them to a place of healing
The only place a soul can truly be healed is in the Church. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a building but it does have to be a place where Jesus is the head, God is glorified, and the Holy Spirit is present. Healing comes through building a relationship with Jesus.
The Church should be a place of safety, healing, and hope for all those who are lost and hurting. We are not the saviors of those around us. We are not the healers. We are not the answer to every person’s problems. But we can direct them to the One who is—Jesus Christ. Only by delivering the broken into the hands of Christ, can we serve them as true neighbors.
- Know your limits
The Good Samaritan had to continue on his journey but left the traveler in good hands and with a promise to follow up and check in upon his return. Listen to God’s direction. When He says it is time to move on, then move on and let God continue His work. Some plant, some water, and some harvest. All these happen in God’s time, so don’t presume that you will be present for every season. Your job is to offer what you can, when you can, and follow the leadership of Christ.
Being a Good Samaritan is about bringing the love and hope of Christ to a hurting world. It isn’t about being the saviors, but about pointing people to the true Savior. Good Samaritans are humble, kind, and compassionate. They are people of action and they respond with love and generosity out of an overflow of the love of Christ in them.
We cannot “try” our way into being Good Samaritans. We can only ask God to fill us with His Spirit so that His goodness circulates into the world around us. In this way, our actions will naturally follow the path of the Good Samaritan as we walk beside our Lord every day. What a journey we will take when we decide to partner with Jesus on our daily travels.
May we invite Christ to lead us daily and introduce us to our neighbors in need.