Summary: Everyone wants to be a "Good Samaritan" or a good neighbor, but there are 100’s of excuses we use to keep us from doing so. Find out the top five excuses and how to erase them from your life so that you can show real mercy to your neighbors.
Showing Mercy to Your Neighbor
Modern day Good Samaritan
A conservative, republican-voting CEO flew from Boston to Atlanta on business. In a dimly lit corner of the rental car lot, three men assaulted him, took his wallet and laptop and left him bleeding and unconscious.
By chance, a pastor of a successful mega-church happened to be nearby but didn’t get involved because he couldn’t see exactly what had happened and he was going to be late for a ministry conference.
Next a Christian businessman noticed the man lying on the floor. He took a couple of steps closer to get a better look, but allowed fear to keep him from acting. He rushed into his new rental car and drove off.
Last, a PBS listening, liberal Attorney happened by. He saw the CEO lying on the ground. In fact, he recognized the man as a leader in an industry to which he and his clients were opposed. The attorney didn’t think twice. With no time to waste, he carried the CEO to his car and rushed him to the local hospital. After a couple of days, the Attorney had to get back to work. Because the CEO had no insurance information on his person, the Attorney left a personal blank check to cover the hospital expenses and his credit card to help the CEO get back home.
Like the Lawyer or “expert in the law” in this passage, you and I test Jesus by the way that we live. We want the best that Jesus has to offer in this life and the next, but we are often unwilling to show mercy to our neighbors. We want heaven, but we don’t necessarily want to live the heavenly kind of life here on earth.
The lawyer wanted to justify his actions and limit the scope of those to whom he needed to show mercy.
We would rather justify the way that we live than show mercy to the hurting around us.
Just like in the story, life still leaves people by the side of the road-naked and bleeding.
We have three possible responses:
1. Cross to the other side (Priest)
2. Walk over, look, cross to the other side (Temple assistant)
3. See the need, feel deep pity, meet the need (Good Samaritan)
Which was the neighborly thing to do? Which showed the greatest mercy?
Doing for others what we would have them do for us.
What difference would it make if we looked at life through this lens?
Showing mercy means erasing the excuses that keep us from doing so.
I am well qualified in the art of excuse making. In high school, my youth pastor dubbed me the King of Excuses.
EXCUSE ONE: “IT ISN’T MY PLACE”
Priest: aristocratic elite did not associate with commoners
To erase this excuse . . .
LOOK BEYOND STEROTYPES (v.33a)
We expect the Priest/Temple worker to help, but they didn’t.
Samaritan: last one you expect to help the Jew, yet he did.
Don’t expect others to meet the needs you see; you meet the needs.
EXCUSE TWO: “I’M AFRAID”
Road from Jericho to Jerusalem: 17 miles long, most traveled road in Judea, descended 2,500 feet above sea level to 800 feet below sea level.
Dangerous road, common for people to get robbed; didn’t stop the Samaritan from helping.
You must face the fear that keeps you from helping others.
PAY ATTETION TO YOUR FEELINGS (v.33b)
The Priest/Temple worker might have felt: “I am afraid of what will happen if I help.”
Samaritan felt differently: “I am afraid of what will happen if I do not help.”
The Samaritan felt deep pity and acted on that feeling.
We need to slow down to feel pity for the people around us.
EXCUSE THREE: “THERE IS NO HOPE”
Stripped of clothes and money, beat half dead. Was there really hope for the man who was robbed?
Yet, he was only half dead. There was still hope for him.
There is hope for everyone; Jesus the Ultimate Samaritan able to heal any wound.
How do we apply this Hope to people’s lives?
GET CLOSE TO NEEDS (v.34)
How did the Samaritan find out the man was half dead? He had to get close to the man.
He knelt down. Pay attention to your feelings and get closer to the needs you see around you.
There is a huge disconnect between the worship experienced by the Priest in Jerusalem and his lack of love for the one in need.
Are we, like the priest passing people by everyday?
Getting close to the need allows you to see what the real issues are and how to meet the needs.
EXCUSE FOUR: “I DON’T HAVE MUCH TO OFFER”
Priest/Temple assistant were not doctors.
Side of the road syndrome says that if we pass someone by the side of the road we can just dismiss our responsibility by telling ourselves that someone else will help the person.