No one wants to be in a one sided relationship. A relationship where you are showing up, giving , planning and doing alll the things. At some point you will be wondering what’s in it for me? Where’s my return on investment? You will want to protect yourself and your assets and take your talents elsewhere, but what if I told you there will be times our love will be unrequited as a Christian.
Scripture focus: Luke 10:27-37
“Jesus replied, “There was once a Jewish man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho when bandits robbed him along the way. They beat him severely, stripped him naked, and left him half dead. “Soon, a Jewish priest walking down the same road came upon the wounded man. Seeing him from a distance, the priest crossed to the other side of the road and walked right past him, not turning to help him one bit. “Later, a religious man, a Levite, came walking down the same road and likewise crossed to the other side to pass by the wounded man without stopping to help him. “Finally, another man, a Samaritan, came upon the bleeding man and was moved with tender compassion for him. He stooped down and gave him first aid, pouring olive oil on his wounds, disinfecting them with wine, and bandaging them to stop the bleeding. Lifting him up, he placed him on his own donkey and brought him to an inn. Then he took him from his donkey and carried him to a room for the night. The next morning he took his own money from his wallet and gave it to the innkeeper with these words: ‘Take care of him until I come back from my journey. If it costs more than this, I will repay you when I return.’ So, now, tell me, which one of the three men who saw the wounded man proved to be the true neighbor?” The religious scholar responded, “The one who demonstrated kindness and mercy.” Jesus said, “Go and do the same as he.””
Luke 10:30-37 TPT
The Jews and Jesus seemed to have had two differing views on identifying and relating to their neighbors.
Here are their definitions according to a concordance
- according to the Jews, any member of the Hebrew nation and commonwealth
- any other man irrespective of nation or religion with whom we live or whom we chance to meet
As you can see it is all about proximity. Jews felt like they should be nice to those who were ethnically/spiritually related and Jesus expanded it to basically everyone.Historically the Jews were very exclusive and they had reason to at first (ordained by God). By mentioning the ethnicities of the characters it uprooted the issue of racial inequality and other prejudices that plagued the Jewish society. In this parable Jesus addressed prejudice and the risk of piety without love for our fellow man.
Jesus had to illustrate that the law is rightfully a lifestyle as the Jews tried to make it but it is a lifestyle of love which extends to everyone even non-Jews. Jews defined their neighbors to be Jews only, hence the need for Jesus to include the Samaritan who was considered not a people of the promise due to their mixed racial heritage. The name , from the Samaritan’s perspective, was not based on their geographical location but more of a nod to their belief system. It is derived from the term Samarim, which means “keeper of the law.”They also lived by the Torah but not accepted by the Jews, which would’ve been expected.
I don’t know if the Levite/Priest assumed the Jewish man to be dead and didn’t want to risk becoming unclean due to the ceremonial law, but this again was a way they allowed the religious law to put a wedge between themselves and God by not being able to properly relate to each other through love. He wanted to show them that it is more lawful to do good for the sake of the soul than it is to simply abide a law for the sake of a law. The law is pointless if it is not for the sake of a person.
According to the Jewish definition of neighbor none of those who passed the Samaritan performed their civil duty much less their spiritual duty, according to their titles and shared ethnicity. The mention of their titles suggests that they knew the law intimately but their actions proved that they didn’t know God intimately. They passed by on the other side. Which means apathy and silence can make one complicit to social atrocities to our fellow man. When Jesus came upon people in diverse ailments and situations he was moved with compassion which spurred actions to solve the problems. Jesus identified himself with the Samaritan as he also healed the sick and paid our debt. He also promised to return and pay back those who did what he said.
Jesus showed that he valued right living as a heart posture than right doing. He valued intimacy over proximity. The priests and levites spent a lot of time in the temple yet so far from God’s heart.Jesus came to fulfill the law, the fulfillment of the law is always to benefit someone and it is spurred/motivated by love.
At this time, we are experiencing many influxes of immigrants and new social issues. There are many opinions about this, but we are called to be known by the way we love others. Leviticus 19:34 says:
“But the stranger who resides with you shall be to you like someone native-born among you; and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.”
Mark 12:31,33 reminds us:
“and to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to [unselfishly] love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.””
We are also called to love those who are hard to love. Doing things for others who perhaps will never be able to repay. The type of love Jesus is calling for is one that is sacrificial in nature.The Jewish man on the road had nothing to give the Samaritan man. It is much easier to do things expecting a return, much easier to love those who love you back, but how much does it require as the Bible says. That’s not the the real flex. It takes time for the Holy Spirit to work within us and to refine us, and even more to love people who may never love us the way we deserve.
Ask the Lord to help you to reflect his love better each day and to discern who and what to pour into and when to walk away.
“Our love for others is our grateful response to the love God first demonstrated to us. Anyone can say, “I love God,” yet have hatred toward another believer. This makes him a phony, because if you don’t love a brother or sister, whom you can see, how can you truly love God, whom you can’t see?”
In the story of the Good Samaritan, we see that the Lord identified himself as “the other” based on his own actions throughout the Gospels in comparison to the Jews.The priest and Levites know the word yet didn’t live it.
We have many brothers and sisters who are left for dead on the highways of life by sin who are in dire need of one of us, for the healing salve of the Gospel. I hope we won’t be too busy scrolling, planning, praying, and studying that we forget to get off the donkeys of our lives to help someone along the way.
Who has God left in your care and you may have allowed prejudices/unforgiveness/priorities/distractions to get in the way of loving/serving wholeheartedly?