Right now, I am reading through the book of Ezekiel and Luke. Yesterday morning, I rose early, made my coffee, turned on my lamp, and sat in my man-chair by the window. I open my Bible as a way of opening my heart. This is the Lord’s sacred time.
My location happened to be Luke 10 that day. I read a story that I have read, heard preached, and reread a million times. Today I got something a little bit different. Funny how you can read the Scriptures all of your life and still get something new each time. The book has many wrinkles.
Most of us know the story. Man beat up and left on the side of the road half dead. Priest walks by, sees man, and then moves to the other side of the road. Physical distance always makes it easier to ignore our moral duty (think of the 24,000 kids that die daily in third world countries from easily preventable diseases that approximately $8 a month from someone in the West could save via reputable organizations). Sadly, out of sight, out of mind.
Next came the Levite. A Levite belonged to the sect of Jews that were in charge of the worship-related rituals in the temple. As did the priest, he also moved to the opposite of the road.
Then came the Samaritan. The Samaritan moved toward the pain. Toward the suffering. Toward the abuse.
And then this phrase struck me: The next day. The longer I walk with the Lord, the more I notice how it is the simple things that shake my heart.
The next day?
An entire day?
For a complete stranger?
For just one person?
Some of us have enough problem giving up an hour or so for a family member or best friend. And yet, this Samaritan poured oil and water on the wounds, bandaged him, put him on his donkey, took him to the local inn, and then paid the inn keeper money to take care of him and promised more upon return. Yet still, in the midst of all of this, what struck me was that this Samaritan did not just drop this person off and get on his way. Rather, he stayed with the beaten man the rest of that day, that night, and on into the next day.
I do not know about you, but time is a more precious commodity to me than even money. Sometimes, it is easy to throw money someone’s way. But to stop, make meaningful contact, open your heart, and give up hours, even an entire day, that is different.
Is one person that important to you? Me?
Are you trying so hard to make a big difference that you do not have time for the person to your right and left?
And here is the biggest question of all, at least for my heart: Will I give up that kind of time to help someone?
The Samaritan did not leave the side of this individual until the next day. No stage. No background music. No social media to then post your good deed. Just a man, a stranger, an inconvenient opportunity.
And an extravagant gesture. And yet, even as I end, it really was not that extravagant. Jesus told this story as a response to the question, “Who is my neighbor?” And right before that, he had answered another question from a certain lawyer by saying that the second greatest commandment was to love one’s neighbor. In other words, Jesus did not consider the Samaritan’s actions to be supererogatory (i.e. above and beyond the call of duty) in nature.
It seems that Jesus is telling all of his followers, “This is your duty, to love like this. To sacrifice your time like this.” Wow. If you are like me, my heart immediately cries out to the Holy Spirit, “You Lord are going to have to do some work in my heart to get me there. I feel more like the priest and Levite at times. Too tired. Too busy. Too many idols. Too many excuses. Too lazy.
Pray and ask God to put this kind of heart into you!