How to Love Like the Good Samaritan
There are a few characters from the Bible that are household names even in secular culture. Adam and Eve, David and Goliath, even Jonah and the whale, are widely known by Christians and non-Christians alike. But one of the most remembered characters didn’t have a name at all; he was simply a good Samaritan. Jesus tells a story about this hypothetical man in Luke 10. And he told this parable when an expert in the law began a conversation with him. The expert in the law knew what the Scriptures said about inheriting eternal life; he quotes Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 by saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.” But he was searching for a way around loving other people. He asked Jesus, who was a “neighbor” to him.
Jesus responds by telling him a story about a man who was beaten, robbed, and left half-dead on the side of the road. A priest walks by him but pays no attention. A Levite (one who would assist the priest in temple worship) also saw the man but kept walking. Then a Samaritan (someone looked down on in that culture as being “less-than”) sees the man, has mercy on him, and helps him get well. Jesus made it clear to the expert in the law that we should be loving neighbors to everyone we meet. But how do we do that? How did the Good Samaritan love?
The first thing the Good Samaritan did when he saw the man is he took pity on him. He put himself in that person’s shoes. He thought to himself what it must feel like to be hurting and desperate for help. This compassion in his heart led him to stop what he was doing and help. He walks over to the man and applies some 1st-century first aid. He cleaned his wounds as best he could and bandaged him up. He then takes the man to a safer place, an inn, to further facilitate care for the wounded man. He stays the night with him, helping him to recover from his misfortunate day. As he leaves the man, he leaves the innkeeper with enough money to finish taking care of him while he healed even further.
The Good Samaritan did everything in his power to help this stranger. He is one of the best examples of loving your neighbor we’ve ever seen. And he did it all in very practical ways that we can follow in our everyday life. The first thing the Good Samaritan gave was his time. Like the priest and the Levite, this Samaritan traveled on the road, most likely headed somewhere to do something he had planned. But unlike the priest and the Levite, the Samaritan’s priorities were in the right place; he valued his neighbor more than his plans. The Samaritan went a full day out of his way to provide help and support for this hurting man. He also helped the man with his resources. He cleaned his wounds and bandaged him up with the things he had on hand. Then he left the innkeeper with two days worth of wages to get him back on his feet. The Good Samaritan showed him love, through his time and resources. Jesus says we should love the same way.
But if we reflect on our lives, how often have we passed a situation just because we had somewhere to be? How many times have we overlooked someone in need just because we didn’t want to sacrifice? If we’re honest with ourselves, it’s probably a lot more than we wish it were. When we get to the source of why we don’t love the way the Good Samaritan loved, it comes down to selfishness. We value our time and resources more than we value helping other people. To love like the Good Samaritan requires a change of heart, and a genuine change of heart involves someone having to enter it. Jesus Christ is the most exceptional example of love this world has ever known. He bled and died in an incomprehensibly unselfish act so that everyone who believes in him could experience eternal life. None of us deserve that kind of love. In the story of our lives, we’re the person who has been beaten and robbed, and Jesus is the loving neighbor who healed us and brought us to safety through the grace of God. Now we have the chance to be a good neighbor to the people by our sides and lead them to experience the same blessing of love that we live in every day. Love like the Good Samaritan because that’s how God loves you.