- Parable of the Good Samaritan
- Luke 10:25-37
- Lyndol Loyd July 31, 2016
Parables: The Good Samaritan
Jesus once told a story called the Good Samaritan. It’s a famous story. Many, many thousands of hospitals and nursing homes have been named after it. President George W. Bush, in his inaugural address, used the Good Samaritan as an illustration on where he thought the country needed to go.
Jesus told this story of three men who were traveling on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, a very notorious road, known for muggers and thieves. They all encountered a crime scene. Each of these three men responded to the crime scene in a different way. Jesus says these three men represent our three choices in life. You’re going to go through life with one of three attitudes toward the people around you, particularly the people in pain.
Luke 10:30-31 says this: “30 Jesus replied with a story: ‘A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
‘31 By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by.’”
This is what I call the lifestyle of avoidance, or keep my distance. Don’t ever get close to people because they might ask you for help. Don’t ever get close to people because you might be needed by them.
Keep your distance. Keep all your relationships superficial. Keep them shallow. Be distant. Keep people at an arm’s length. Because if you get close, you might get involved. And if you get involved, you might get hurt.
This guy’s walking down the road. He sees a guy who’s been beaten, mugged, left for dead on the side of the road, and he said, “I’ll just keep my distance and go on about my business on the other side of the road.”
In a place like the Southwest corner of Lubbock, this can be a reasonably easy attitude to adopt. It’s easy for me to go from my home to my office and back home in this beautiful area and never really come in touch with deeply hurting people. This is the Keep My Distance attitude.
Luke 10:32 says, “32 A Levite, a temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.”
A Levite was not a jeans salesman. He was a temple assistant.
This guy’s even worse. He walks over across the street, sees this guy victimized, lying there, beaten half dead, naked, bleeding to death, looks at him – stares at him – walks back to the other side and keeps on walking.
My guess is that everybody in this room has done this. Traffic always slows down with an accident because of the gawkers. We want to stare. What’s happening over there? Is it a fender bender? Is anybody hurt? Is anybody killed? But does anybody want to stop? No. We want to stare but not stop. This is the Curious but not Involved.
Have you noticed it’s a lot easier to gossip about people’s problems than it is to help with them? We love to talk about other people’s problems, we love to discuss other people’s problems, we love to read about other people’s problems.
Why do you think the gossip magazines, the people magazines, are the most popular magazines in the world? Because we like to read about other people’s misfortune but we don’t want to do anything. Curious but Uninvolved. Aware but Apathetic.
The Bible says in verse 33, “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him.”
This Good Samaritan did some things that I need to do, that you need to do, if we’re going to learn to be kinder, more loving people. If we want to become a kinder person, a great lover of people, we must start seeing the needs of people around us.
Kindness always begins with the eyes – the way you look, the way you see. It always begins with your vision, the way you observe things, the way you are sensitive to the needs of other people. Kindness starts with your eyes. If you’re not aware of needs, you can’t care about those needs. You have to see the need first.
Another translation of Luke 10:33 says, “When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him.” That is the starting point. If you want to learn to become a kinder person, you’ve got to change the way you look at the world. You must expand your vision, you need to become more observant of the needs around you, be more sensitive.
There are wounded people all over the world. There are wounded people sitting on the very row you’re sitting in right now. But you don’t just see them. Why don’t we see the wounds of the people around us? One word – busyness.
Hurry is the death of kindness. If you don’t get anything else I say today, I want you to get this. If you’re going to learn to be a kinder person, you must slow down. You don’t see it unless you slow down.
Hurry, when you’re busy, when you’re always distracted with other things, you don’t have time to be kind. If you want to become a more loving person, you need to slow your life down in order to see the needs of the people around you.
Let’s say you’re going to take a trip across country. You’re married, you have a family, and you want them to see what America is really like. You’re going to go from the East Coast to the West Coast. You’ve got a lot of different opportunities for transportation.
You could take a plane. That would get you to the West Coast the fastest, but you won’t see much of the country, because the faster you go, the less you see.
You could take a train, which would be slower than a plane. You would see definitely a lot more because you’re going slower. On the other hand, if you took a car trip with your family, you’d go even slower than a train and you’d see even more. But if you really wanted to see the country, you’d walk
If you want to see it, you must slow down. The slower you go, the more you see.
The Bible says this: “Look out for the good of others” 1 Corinthians 10:24. The first step to kindness is to ask God to give you spiritual radar, that you would be on the lookout for people in need around you who are hurting emotionally, spiritually, physically and in any other ways. There are people who need help, encouragement, concern, a pat on the back.
Some of you today, don’t even need this message. You were born sensitive. You were born with antenna. You automatically sense when people are in need around you. You sense pain, you watch body language. It’s not that you’re more spiritual than the rest of us, you’re just wired that way. You’re just naturally sensitive to people’s feelings or when they’re in pain or whether they’re hurt.
On the other hand, the rest of you are kind of like me, you have spiritual ADD. It’s easy to get distracted. It’s easy to be task focused. It’s easy to not be sensitive to what’s happening around you
But if you care, you’ll be aware. So the starting point to kindness is to say, “God, open the eyes of my heart that I may not only see You but I can see the needs of the people around me. “
If I were to ask you to make a list: In one column, you write the name of every person you come in contact with on at least an every-other-day basis. You work with them, you live with them, whatever. Make a list of their names. Then right next to their name put the number one struggle they’re facing right now. I wonder how many blanks would be on that sheet?
All the time we work with people whose lives are crumbling, but we don’t know anything about this. Kindness starts with sensitivity. Kindness starts in the eyes. It starts with awareness, observing what’s happening in people’s lives.
Evaluate yourselves on a one to five basis. Do you need work in this area, or is everything going great?
We need to start seeing and stop ignoring. The Bible says this in Galatians 6:8 (The Message paraphrase): “The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others, harvests a crop of weeds. All they have to show for his life is weeds.” The fact is, it’s not always easy to see the needs of other people, especially when they’re on the other side of the road. But it’s the starting point of kindness. Kindness starts with the way you look at things. You must start seeing the needs of the people around you. It starts with sensitivity.
It’s not enough to just see their need, you must feel their emotions. You must sympathize with their pain. The Bible says this in Luke 10:33, “When he saw him, his heart was filled with pity.” First, his eyes kicked in. Then his ears and his heart kicked in, and he’s filled with pity.
The Bible tells us “Weep with those who weep.” In other words, share their sorrow. Enter into their emotions. Feel what they feel.
How do you do that? How do I increase my ability to be a more sensitive and a more sympathetic person?
If sensitivity begins with your eyes, sympathy begins with your ears. It’s learning to listen. Learning to listen is the secret of genuine sympathy. The better listener you become, the more sympathetic you become. Sometimes kindness is just listening.
A few years back a major newspaper ran an ad that said, “I’ll listen to anybody speak about anything for fifteen minutes for twenty bucks.” I bet that guy’s making a good living. People are dying to have someone listen to them. That’s why they go on these chat rooms. That’s why you can’t get people off the phone. They want somebody to listen to them.
Sometimes kindness is just listening. In fact, advice giving can actually be counterproductive to kindness. Joe Bailey wrote a book on grief, on losing a loved one. He called it A View From the Hearse.
From his experience he said this: “I was sitting, torn by grief, and somebody came along and talked to me about God’s dealings of why it happened, of hope beyond the grave. He talked constantly. He said things I knew were true. But I was unmoved, except to wish that he would go away. And he finally did.
Then another one came and sat beside me, and he didn’t talk at all. He didn’t ask me any leading questions. He just sat beside me for an hour or more, listened when I said something, answered briefly, prayed simply and left. I was moved. I was comforted. I hated to see him go.”
Sympathy involves the ears. Listening is a form of kindness.
Sympathy meets two of your basic needs: the need to be understood and the need to have your feelings validated. Both human needs. That you’re not a weirdo; you’re not crazy. What you feel is something normal and others have felt it before you.
The Bible says it like this: “Share each other’s troubles and problems and in this way obey the law of Christ.” What is the law of Christ? It’s called the Great Commandment. “Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.”
Do you like sympathy? Of course you do. Do you like people to sympathize with you when you’re hurting emotionally, physically, whatever? Of course you do. The Bible says do the same to others.
Rate yourself on your sympathy toward other people. One means “Needs work;” five means “Things are going great.” How are you in your evaluation of sympathy?
I believe that God intentionally puts people—needy, hurtful people in the path of your life. They’re in front of you all the time. You don’t see them because you’re insensitive or unsympathetic.
But He puts those kinds of people around us all the time in order for them to be ministered to and in order for us to learn kindness. That’s the way we learn kindness.
We don’t learn kindness reading a book about it. We don’t learn kindness being kind to our kids and then they give us a big hug back. We learn real kindness when we don’t get anything out of it, and it costs us—in our schedule or time or something. God has uniquely placed individuals in our path.
This is going to happen to some of you today. You’re going to leave this service and before you even arrive home, you’re going to have a divine encounter. You’re going to go to the grocery store or gas station or go out to lunch, and there’s going to be a waitress who needs a kind word because she’s having a tough time. Or there’s going to be a gas- station attendant or there’s going to be somebody on your block, in your neighborhood who needs your love.
And God’s going to give you an opportunity and you have the choice – will I seize the moment or will I blow it off? Will I shine it on? Will I just say forget it, I’m too busy? I’m tired. I don’t have the energy. Or whatever the excuse we have. God is giving you the opportunity to grow in kindness. That’s how we learn to love. If you’re going to be kind, then you must be willing to put up with interruptions, you must be open.
Isaiah 58:7-8 (MSG) says, “What I’m interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families. Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once. Your righteousness will pave your way. The God of glory will secure your passage. Then when you pray, God will answer. You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’”
God says this: “When you assume responsibility for the needs of hurting people around you,” God says, “I guarantee to meet your needs.” What a deal! God says, “When you take on the needs of other people around you, I guarantee that your needs will be met by Me, God.” You can’t beat that. He says, “I’ll lead you, I’ll bless you, I’ll take care of your needs.”
Lord, we all admit – I certainly admit – that this is difficult to pray about. Thinking about kindness brings me face to face with the unkind words that so easily slip out of my mouth, the unkind thoughts, the times I walked right by opportunities to be kind. It’s a reminder, Lord, of how much we need Your help to make a difference in our lives. We’re praying about this, God, because we realize that You can make a difference. You can cause a new kind of kindness to be a part of the everyday of our lives. Lord, I pray that this next week You would help us to see needs like we’ve never seen them before. See them like You see them. We need Your help to do that. I pray that this next week You’d help us to have a heart for those needs, to sympathize with the struggle that others are facing. God, You care for our needs, and You have a heart for our hurt more that we can imagine. Help us to care. Help us to have that heart. And then help us to have the courage to do something about that care and concern. God, do in us what we can’t do for ourselves. Give us a true and deep kindness, just one person, one action at a time. We ask for this in Jesus’ name. Amen.