Tuesday, May 22, 2012

You must choose a side of the road

Last night our small group bible study worked on the parable of "The Good Samaritan" from Luke 10:25-37.

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 

 “What is written in the Law?” Jesus replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” 

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.  So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.  The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ 

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

This story challenges us to decide "which side of the road" we will choose.  I'll start with a few definitions to, possibly, clarify this story.  First the priest in this story is considered a direct descendant of Aaron, Moses brother, who as made a priest by God, as well as all his direct descendants.  Secondly, the Levite was a member of the tribe of Levi and were the readers of the Torah and caretakers of the Synagogue.  They were not allowed to own land and were cared for through tithes of the Israelites.  Lastly, the Samaritan is a member of race closely related to the Jews, but hated by the Jews because they inbred with pagans and worshiped pagan gods as well as the Hebrew G-d.  The verses do not say who the man attacked by robbers was, but I'm going to assume he was a Jew.

The crux of this story has to with the choice each traveler made as they came upon the injured man on the road.  The fact that the traveler choosing the injured man's side of the road in this story is a man from a group that has a deep cultural distrust of the group the injured man is a member of is the critical point of this story.

I had a very difficult time with this lesson.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I offended two members of the group, but I'm not completely sure.  I feel I am a generous person, but I'm not a very "hands on" person.  I'm an introvert and shy.  I told you in the "100 things about me" that I startle easily.  We talked about the homeless and indigent begging on the streets and asking for a handout.  I'm not good with this.  I'm afraid of them.  We talked about charities that have been accused and proven to have mishandled funds.  We talked about the outpouring of benevolence and charity after 9/11 and Katrina and then..., nothing.

Am I a "good Samaritan" if I am a constant giver to the specific charities I support?  I support Care Net pregnancy care centers.  I give to the church I attend, intermittently.  I gave to Samaritan's purse at Christmas.  Our small group adopted a family last Christmas.  Because I've never seen or spoken to the recipients of my giving, am I less than a "good Samaritan?"  And now that I've shared my giving, have I gone against the verse in Matthew 6:3 "But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing."  All these rules and boundaries about the righteous way to give.  Does it mean giving money is less noble than working in a soup kitchen?  Does is mean that buying Christmas gifts is less righteous than working in a prison ministry?  Does it mean that giving to a pregnancy center is less benevolent than passing out tracts on street corners and telling people that Jesus saves?  I say giving is giving.  I say, God loves a cheerful giver.  The verse from 2 Corinthians 9:7, "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver," wasn't even in the lesson last night.

We talked about taking money out of the equation of being a good Samaritan.  We talked about being the encourager.  We talked about sharing the gospel.  We talked about being an influence for positivity at work.  These are the very things I struggle with.  Is this why there are both, the money and the hands on aspect in the good Samaritan story?

I've been told my bluntness, even about good things is "jaw dropping."  I've been told I'm not warm or fuzzy.  And, last night, I felt the cold shoulder of believers with more feeling in their MBTI.  This is where my struggles so often seem to be.  Can an introverted, thinker/judger be a good Samaritan? 

I think Jesus shared both, the pouring of oil and wine on the wounds and the giving of denarii to the innkeeper in this story.  Both are ways to be the good Samaritan to the needy.  I know which side of the road I would choose.

270.  Being encouraged to exercise my body
271.  A dentist that is truly painless
272.  Being able to talk to my mom on the phone, every day
273.  Godly people praying for reconciliation for my dad and my brother
274.  Seeing the joy in the face of a co-worker that is about to retire

Linking to Shanda at On Your Heart Tuesdays


  1. i think we need people to be hands on and people that will finance the mission of those that are hands on...i think we are each given different giftings...we have to follow them...

  2. I think that as long as we're willing and obedient, each situation we encounter God will show us our part, what we need to do.  The key is willingness to obey, and then taking action to obey, as He leads.
    Thanks for your encouragement about my office makeover.  I'm lovin' it!

  3. Sounds like you are in an excellent bible study!   It is always hard working against our own personalities to try to mold them into Christ's characteristics.  It's like swimming up stream sometimes!

  4. Oh my goodness.  You made the light bulb over my head click on.  Molding my personality to be more Christ-like instead of justifying my personality.  You are a blessing, friend.  :)

  5. My husband is much more of a thinker than I am. I'm much more emotional. It's been very helpful for me to run my desires to help past him and get his input on it, especially as he has experience working with the homeless.  As we've put our heads together, we've come up with some good solutions that are both kind and wise. For example, we try to bring granola bars or juice boxes or apples with us when we're going places that have homeless. This way we can give without wondering if we're contributing negatively to the person's addiction. Introverts/thinkers are invaluable in balancing out the highly extroverted/emotional. :) 


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