[The Samaritan] came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, “Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.”
In the parable of the good Samaritan, the contrast between the Samaritan and the religious leaders is striking. You see, the two religious leaders in the story represent the lawyer. They, too, wanted to restrict the meaning of neighbor so they could meet that standard. But not the Samaritan. He refused to restrict the meaning of neighbor. He expanded it like Jesus did.
Unlike the religious leaders, the Samaritan did not allow legalism to limit his love. That is, he didn’t concoct his own system of religion that would keep him from ministering to a person who was different than he was. He didn’t use his own prejudice as an excuse for not ministering to someone who had been left for dead. And we need to be careful that we don’t do that either. It’s very easy to be pious and come up with all of these excuses why we don’t want to minister to people who are different than we are. Let’s never allow legalism, some artificial standard, to limit our love for people.
Second, notice that the Samaritan didn’t allow race or religion to limit his concern. He could have said to the injured man, “I would like to help you, but we have a different ethnicity. You are a full-blooded Jew, and I’m only a half-Jew.” Or he could have said, “I would like to help you but we have different doctrine. We’re not in the same denomination. You full-blooded Jews believe Jerusalem is the right place to worship. We Samaritans believe Mount Gerizim is the right place to worship. Somebody of your own kind ought to help you.” But this Samaritan refused to allow race or religion to limit his concern. And the same should be true for us. We should not limit our concern to people who look like or believe like us. We are commanded to reach everyone. You know in heaven, not everyone is going to have the same skin color. They’re not going to be from the same economic background or have the same IQ. But what they have in common is their love for Jesus Christ. And I believe the local church ought to be a slice of what heaven is. We should never allow race or religion to limit the people we reach.
Third, the Samaritan refused to allow inconvenience to limit his sacrifice. Notice that this Samaritan was on a journey. He was not just riding around on his donkey looking for something to do! He was a wealthy man, so he was probably conducting important business. But he was willing to sacrifice his schedule to meet someone’s real need. What do we have on our calendar that is so important we can’t stop and help someone in need? You know, many of Jesus’ miracles were interruptions in His schedule. Jesus was on His way someplace else when he stopped and healed the man who had been blind since birth. It was while Jesus was on His way to do something important that He stopped and healed the woman with the issue of blood. Jesus was in the middle of a sermon when a paralytic was lowered down from the ceiling. Jesus stopped, healed him, and gave one of His greatest messages on forgiveness. We should never allow personal inconvenience to limit our sacrifice.
In the parable of the good Samaritan, the Samaritan was willing to stop for no other reason than he had compassion for the injured man. He did not allow race, religion, personal inconvenience, or legalism to limit his love for a stranger.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “A Stranger in Need Meets a Neighbor in Deed” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.