Summary: There are three ways to look at people: (1) as prey - whom we can make a profit from; (2) as trouble to avoid, or (3) as an opportunity for us to serve. The Lord says we are to minister to others, especially those in need.
This parable tells us we can treat people in at least 3 different ways.
(1) Like the robbers, sees a person as a prey. They are out to gain something from him.
(2) Like the priest and the Levite, see the person as a trouble to avoid. He is a baggage they do not want to carry.
(3) Like the Samaritan man, seeing the person as someone he can help. He sees it as an opportunity to minister.
(1) The robbers saw the person as a prey.
Their attitude was: WHAT IS YOURS IS MINE, and I can take it from you.
They were driven by greed.
When the robbers saw a man – they robbed him, “stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away leaving him half dead.” (v.30) Whether he lives or dies is not their concern. They got what they want from him. His life is of little value to them, except what they can get out of it.
It’s like a child. Someone’s once said a child’s property law goes like this:
1. If I like it, it’s mine.
2. If it’s in my hand, it’s mine.
3. If I can take it from you, it’s mine.
4. If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine.
5. If it’s mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way.
6. If I’m doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.
7. If it looks just like mine, it’s mine.
8. If I think it’s mine, it’s mine.
9. If it’s yours and I steal it, it’s mine.
In a competitive society like ours, we can easily end up with such an attitude. We always ask, “What am I getting out of this?” If I get nothing out of it, I’m not going to do it.
We want to gain something in everything we do. And sometimes, we even seek to make a profit at someone else’s expense. We take advantage of situations and people, so that we can get the most out of it.
Of course, we do not go to the extent of robbing someone, but our action sometimes does reveal that we care only for ourselves. It really doesn’t matter if the person lives or dies, as long as I am doing fine and getting what I want from life.
(2) The religious men saw the person as a trouble to avoid.
Their attitude was: WHAT’S MINE IS MINE, and I will keep it from you.
They were driven by selfishness.
Both of them – the priest and the Levite - “passed by on the other side.” (v.31, 32)
They were in a hurry to do their work at the temple. They would not want to touch the unclean, or to care for someone who might just die in their arms. According to the Jewish law (Num 19:11), “He who touches a dead man is unclean for seven days.” It would be too troublesome. It would delay their journey or hinder their work.
Do we see people as trouble to avoid? Are there times we choose to close our eyes to them, and just walk pass on the other side? Because to stop and help, we will have to give up something important to us – like our time, our resources, or our convenience.
Charles Swindoll says in The Quest for Character: Rare indeed are those people who give of themselves with little regard for recognition, personal benefit, or monetary returns. For some reason we are slowly eroding into a people that gauges every request for involvement from the viewpoint - What do I get out of it? How can I get the most for the least?