Summary: A Christian is to be one who is daily creating chain reactions of kindness. Lucy Larcom said, "If the world seems cold to you, kindle fires to warm it." That was the practical goal Jesus was aiming at with this story of the Good Samaritan.
Back in 1991 Glamor Magazine had an editorial about a woman who drove up to the toll booth
of the Bay Bridge in San Francisco and said, "I'm paying for myself and for the 6 cars behind me."
One after another the next 6 drivers came up to the booth with dollars in hand only to be told,
"Some lady up ahead already paid your fare. Have a nice day." This random act of kindness was
inspired by an index card the woman saw on a friend's refrigerator. It said, "Practice random acts
of kindness and senseless beauty." The friend saw the saying spray painted on a warehouse wall.
Her husband liked it so much he put it on the blackboard of his 7th grade class. One of the
students was the daughter of a columnist. She took it home to him, and he put it in his column in
Soon, random acts of kindness were being done by people all over the country. Bumper
stickers were made, and people were putting the idea on letters and business cards. Articles came
out in Reader's Digest, Ladies Home Journal, Red Book, and People's Weekly. The idea was so
simple: anything you think there should be more of in this world-do it randomly. It is a great idea
that was a fad for the world, but it is to be a way of life for the Christian. It is not a motto merely,
for kindness is to be a basic ingredient of who we are, and not just a temporary program.
Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan because the religious scholar He was talking to
represented the religious establishment who thought that all that really matters is having the right
beliefs. Jesus used a Samaritan, who had some wrong beliefs, to show him, and all religious
people, that right beliefs without practical behavior do not make you pleasing to God or to anyone
The priest and the Levite were professionals who had all the right answers to theological
questions, but they were not kind to the man in need, and, therefore, their being right was of no
practical value. Better is one who may have some wrong ideas of the truth, but who is kind, for he
is more likely to be a tool of God in the world. Jesus is dealing with people who think that if thehead has it all together, they are really in the favor of God. Jesus is saying by this story that the
head is not enough if the heart is not right. Knowing truth is good, but doing truth is a must to
make truth practical and relevant to real life. What good is it to know the commandment to love
your neighbor as yourself if you do not do it? Better use the student who does not know, and
misses that question on the test, but who does in fact show love to his neighbor.
I must confess that I am part of the old school that was trained to believe that if you teach the
Bible and help Christians grow in their understanding of its truth, they will respond by reaching
out to touch the world around them. Now I know this is not how it works at all. Christians get so
involved in learning the truth of the Bible that they forsake the world, and do less and less to show
the love of God to the world. Christians get just like the Jews got that Jesus is dealing with. They
became fanatical for studying the laws of God, and were experts in the law, but they lost their
compassion for people. All they cared about was legal technicalities. They did not care that people
were hurting and needed help. They criticized Jesus for every loving act of kindness He did
because He broke one of their laws in doing so. They were very unkind, and Jesus fought this
terrible state of mind. To think that God cares more about rules and regulations than about people
is the greatest heresy of the religious leaders of Judaism.
Jesus made them very angry by using Gentiles and Samaritans as heroes, for this was heresy to
them to even suggest these kinds of people could be more favorable to God than they were. Jesus
used them, however, to teach that what was really heresy was to think that having a good grasp of
the law was all that mattered, even if you did not practice the spirit of it. Judaism failed God
because it ceased to be kind. Jesus said the Pharisees were to be listened to, for they had a correct
understanding of the law. They were valid teachers of what God wanted men to hear and
understand. They were condemned, however, because they did not practice it. They were cruel to