“’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.’”
But the expert in the law wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of 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, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return I will reimburse you for any extra expense you have.’
“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.” (Luke 10:27, 29-37, NIV)
I see myself in this story. But I am not always the Samaritan.
Sometimes I am the expert in the law. God’s wisdom for us is clear and simple: treat your neighbor the way you want to be treated. But when I fail, when the golden rule isn’t comfortable, I try to “justify” myself with questions and reasoning: “But who is my neighbor? How far does my responsibility really go?”
Sometimes I am the priest. Though a neighbor’s need is obvious, I have something more pressing to do, and more convenient. I pretend not to see.
But the closer I grow to God, the more His love grips my heart. The more I love Him, the more I care about those He loves. How can I ignore those that matter so deeply to Him?
Every parent, every loving spouse, every true friend knows that love has its own logic and its own agenda. It doesn’t always make sense to others. That is the logic and agenda my Father wants for me as I live in this needy world, full of people He loves. In every needy “neighbor” He wants me to see my child, my spouse, my dear friend…myself.
When I am needy and hurting, I am desperate to see that Good Samaritan come along. Father, help me to be a neighbor to the needy persons I meet.