TO CHEW ON: "'So which of these three do you think was neighbour to him who fell among thieves?'
And he said, 'He who showed mercy on him.'
Then Jesus said to him, 'Go and do likewise'" Luke 10:36-37
The practical working out of what we say we believe is never as straightforward as it looks or sounds. When the lawyer answered his own question to Jesus, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life," he probably rattled off his reply like a memorized response in catechism class: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself."
Jesus' story of the good Samaritan in response to the young man's question, "Who is my neighbour?" illustrates how much harder it is to actually live out loving one's neighbour than to just quote the answer. When the Samaritan responded to the poor beat-up man it took over his day with a busyness and inconvenience he had not counted on. He could have come up with so many good reasons not to get involved:
It's not my duty.
The victim may not have been a fellow-Samaritan, in fact, probably wasn't. In other circumstances the now helpless traveler would likely have snubbed the Samaritan.
It's not safe.
The man had just been robbed and beaten up. Who knew if the bandits weren't hiding behind the hill or in the bushes for someone just like him to come by and help.
I don't have time.
But he took time to stop, bind the man's wounds and help him onto his mount. Then, probably slowed down considerably, they made their way to the next town.
I don't have the money.
For the Samaritan, that seems to have been no objection. He was generous in making sure the man's needs were cared for.
Jesus' telling of this story illustrates the gulf between knowing the right thing to do and actually doing it. None of us will live the exact scenario Jesus described in this story. But, given life's ups and downs, one of these days we'll meet a 'neighbour' who needs mercy. I ask myself, will I, will you, have the wisdom to know what mercy looks like in the situation? And will we have the character and courage to act in mercy? Or will we take the easy way out, illustrating by our excuses that we really know very little about loving God with my heart, soul, strength and mind?
PRAYER: Dear God, please help me translate the love I say I have for You into practical demonstrations of mercy to those I meet who need it. Amen.
MORE: Keith Green sings "On the Road to Jericho"
Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.