“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” — Matthew 22:37-39
Star athletes and popular coaches face a lot of demands for their time. They have practices, meetings, media interviews and so much more. Just like us, celebrities can get so overwhelmed with their responsibilities that they may miss the needy people at their doorstep, or even family members who need more of their time.
Here’s a modern-day parable to help us regain proper perspective: Samuel Pharisee and Joshua Sadducee got out of their big, expensive trucks one Sunday morning, walked toward the church and looked at their watch. Morning worship started in five minutes and they were in a hurry to get to their pew and be seen by all of the important people in the community. As they rushed toward the front door of the church, a man lay on the sidewalk bleeding from a head wound. Harry Homeless got robbed of his cash last night, and he didn’t have enough strength to call for help. Church services would start momentarily; would anybody help this man in time?
Suddenly, a man with a ragged, rusty, dented old car drove by and saw the man still bleeding, struggling to breathe and holding his chest. Thomas Samaritan just worked all night mopping floors at the hospital and was tired, but he jumped out of his car quickly, administered CPR on Harry and dialed 911 to get an ambulance to help this man while he was still alive. After Harry woke up in the hospital and started feeling better, he thanked Thomas Samaritan for caring enough to save his life when others criticized him or were too busy or selfish to be concerned with someone in need.
Sure, church attendance is helpful for our faith journey, but God expects Christians to show compassion for people. That’s the lesson in Jesus’ actual Good Samaritan parable in Luke 10, where Jesus was explaining to a religious man who was questioning exactly who was his neighbor that he was told to love as himself (in Leviticus 19:18).
In the parable, two religious men passed by a man who had been attacked and left for dead. They couldn’t be bothered. But a Samaritan — detested by the Jews in that time — stopped to care for the bleeding man. “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” (Luke 10:33-34).
After Jesus told this story to the religious man, He asked him an important question: “‘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'” (Luke 10:36-37).
Jesus makes clear to us what our greatest commands are as His followers: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:36-40).
This is easy to say, but harder to do, especially if we are so focused on our own pursuits and responsibilities. This week, make it a priority to intentionally look for “neighbors” to love and show mercy to, even if they aren’t who or what you expect, and especially if it doesn’t feel convenient. Doing so will glorify the Lord, which is our greatest purpose as believers.
— Bill Kent, Pastor of Memorial Baptist Church, Sylvania, Georgia
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