But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” Luke 10:29-37
Every day I pass by those who have great needs and/or are spiritually dead. I am too often like the priest or Levite, passing by on the other side- physically or in conversation. Three key components are seen in the Samaritan’s response, as a model to love my neighbor:
- Hands-on. The Samaritan “got his hands dirty” by binding up the stranger’s wounds and carrying him on his own animal. Too often, I avoid situations because I don’t want to get involved or scared because “I don’t know them”.
- Time. The Samaritan took the time and delayed his trip by a day (10:35) to care for the man’s needs. It is so easy for me use the excuse that I am “too busy” to get involved or ask.
- Resources. In addition to time and energy, the Samaritan gave without limit. I place limits on how much I’m willing to invest- whether time, energy, or physical resources.
When I look at the Samaritan’s response to the dying man, I realize that this is not merely a “good deeds” issue, but rather a Gospel issue:
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. -1 John 4:7-11
We love our neighbor, because He first loved us. As new creations in Jesus Christ, saved from our sins by His sacrifice on our behalf, we are to walk as He walked (1 John2:5). Jesus is the perfect representation of the love we are to exhibit as demonstrated in the parable of the good Samaritan. Jesus “got his hands dirty” by emptying Himself and being born in the likeness of men. He took the time step out of His heavenly abode and come. He gave the ultimate resource- His own blood, shed on our behalf (Philippians 2:5-8).
As I consider what I must do to love my neighbor more, my prayer echoes the words from Brandon Heath’s song Give Me Your Eyes:
Give me Your eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me Your love for humanity
Give me Your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me Your eyes so I can see
In prayerful dependence on God, it starts by being intentional toward others. I can get so busy that I don’t take the time to watch and listen to others around me. Every life has a story, I just need to take time to listen to it, as this video powerfully illustrates.
May we all show love to our neighbors, because of the great love Jesus showed toward us first.
In closing, I know that if we take time to love my neighbor, there will be rare times when they will attempt to take advantage of us. Great discernment and care will be taken when these situations arise, but it is not an excuse to not love others as God commands.