I’m sure you’ve heard the parable of the good Samaritan in the gospel of Luke. (It’s found in chapter ten, beginning with the twenty-fifth verse.) Basically, there’s a man who is robbed and left for dead on the side of the road. A priest and a Levite traveled along the road at separate times, both crossing on the opposite side in order to avoid the man. Then the Samaritan passes by and takes care of the man, bringing him to an inn where he can be looked after. It’s really a touching story.
As Christians, I think we tend to automatically associate ourselves most closely with the Samaritan instead of the priest or Levite. We know the story, and if we ever see a man dying on the side of the road, we fully intend to stop and assist him. But I don’t think Jesus meant for us to only apply the moral in a similar situation. The meaning goes much deeper than that, impacting the way we treat people on a daily basis.
Every day, we come into contact with countless people. Each of them is the man lying on the side of the road. Granted, whatever they’re going through is probably a little less dramatic than being left for dead on the side of a road, but they’re still facing trials, whether we can see it from the outside or not. We’re the other characters from the story, and we decide whether we’re the Samaritan or the priest/Levite. I think it’s so easy to be like the priest without even realizing it. We pass people, always keeping our distance in order to ignore that a need exists. If the Levite doesn’t directly cross paths with the man, he doesn’t feel obligated to provide assistance. If we aren’t directly asked for our help, we create this illusion that no one needs it.
It’s rare for people in need to ask for help. Besides, how do they know you’re willing to help in the first place? We have to walk through life the way that the good Samaritan travels the road. We have to put ourselves in the position to help. The man doesn’t call out for help; the Samaritan has to approach him. The girl who dropped her books in the hallway isn’t going to ask those around her for help; we just have to bend down and start picking them up.
It isn’t always easy to tell when people need help. Most of the battles people fight go on inside of themselves, where the rest of us can’t see. We have to keep in mind that every single one of us is broken. All of us are hurting; all of us are suffering through something. And the way in which we treat people let’s them know that we care. When we befriend people, take the time to ask them if they’re doing okay, that’s the first step to becoming like the good Samaritan, the part where he approaches the man. Once people see that we took the time to care, we’ll be able to help in whatever ways we can.
The amount of love that the Samaritan had to have had for other people blows my mind. I hope with all of my heart that I am able to treat the people around me with the love and compassion that he did. The priest and the Levite thought about what would happen to them if they stopped; the Samaritan thought about what would happen to the man if he(the Samaritan) didn’t stop. I’m going to strive to consider the impact my actions will have on other people as opposed to the impact my actions will have on me. “What will happen to him/her if I don’t?” instead of “what will happen to me if I do?” Because in the end, the love we show to other people is going to have a bigger impact than the love we show for ourselves.
1 Corinthians 16:23-24,