If a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. The stranger . . . shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself (Lev.19:33-34 NKJV).
What keeps you from caring for those who are not like you? How did Jesus live out the truths of the Good Samaritan parable?
The other day I spotted a man in a wheelchair rocking back and forth on a street corner. One of his front wheels was stuck in a crack on the curb, and he was struggling to get loose. Moments later, a kind man came along and gave him a push to set him free.
Many of us would refer to the man who offered assistance as a “Good Samaritan.” We borrow the label from a well-known story Jesus told (Luke 10:30-35).
The story centers around a man who was robbed and left for dead on a remote road to Jericho (v.30). His attackers left him badly beaten and in need of major assistance. Amazingly, two separate Jewish travelers completely ignored the man’s plight. Then a Samaritan man came along and went out of his way to help (vv.33-34).
The point of Jesus’ story is obvious: Be a neighbor to anyone who is in need, even those who are unlike you. It’s a point He stressed in response to questions from a Jewish lawyer who was out to minimize and limit God’s call to love one’s neighbor: “The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ ” (v.29). But when the hero of the story turned out to be a Samaritan, long considered to be a lowlife by the Jewish establishment, it became painfully clear to him that no such limits exist for those who truly love God.
We live in a world where prejudices run deep. But there’s no place for a follower of God to be a choosy kind of neighbor. The story of the Good Samaritan reminds us that a sincere lover of God is merciful and compassionate to all, not just certain people. As Jesus said, “Now go and do the same” (v.37).
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