An organization in South Africa began a compassionate project many years ago. The group buys houses in impoverished areas and paints them red. They then hire house parents who live in the red houses, providing beacons of light to the troubled communities. Over the years, these houses have become havens for children at risk and other hurting people in need of a safe place, a hot meal, a listening ear, and a warm hug.

Jesus once told a story to an expert in religious law who was trying to trick Him. The religious leader had asked Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life (Luke 10:25). Jesus told him that he should follow the law of Moses: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ ” (Luke 10:26-27). When the man asked who his neighbor was, Jesus told him the following story.

A Jewish man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho was attacked by bandits and left for dead (Luke 10:30). When a priest saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road. A temple assistant noticed him, but he too crossed to the other side. Then, a “despised” Samaritan saw the man and felt compassion for him. He put the man on his donkey and took him to an inn, where he cared for him. The next day the Samaritan handed the innkeeper two silver coins and told him to look after the injured man (Luke 10:35).

Jesus asked the religious inquirer who had been a true neighbor to the hurting man. “The one who showed him mercy” (Luke 10:37), he said. Like that compassionate Samaritan, may we also let God’s love guide us as we care for the poor and hurting of this world.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Matthew 18:10-22