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Summary: The fifth message in the series based on the six pillars of ‘Character Counts!’

(Slide 1) Ally bank commercial about the two ponies.

(Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qb0vquRcys)

Who said that TV commercials are worthless? Can’t you hear that little girl saying inside, “It’s not fair!”

Fairness, one of the six pillars of character from Character Counts!, is what we studied last week and I think that it is an issue very much in the news these days as we think about healthcare reform, government spending, TARP, and the like.

This morning, we address the fifth pillar, kindness. But as we do, here are some quotes that came across my Twitter feed this week about character that caught my attention:

(Slide 2) Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion. – Aristotle (Source: twitter.com/erbks via philosophytweet)

In other words, our character can influence others in a way that things like money and power cannot.

(Slide 3) Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing. -Abraham Lincoln

(Source: twitter.com/philosophytweet)

That statement makes me want to ask, “What kind of a shadow does my character cast?”

Our text for this morning is a very familiar story that we shall reflect on from the perspective of caring – The parable of The Good Samaritan found in Luke 10:25-37:

One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what must I do to receive eternal life?”

Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”

The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”

The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus replied with an illustration: “A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes and money, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.

“By chance a Jewish priest came along; but when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.

“Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt deep pity. Kneeling beside him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with medicine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two pieces of silver and told him to take care of the man. ‘If his bill runs higher than that,’ he said, ‘I’ll pay the difference the next time I am here.’

“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.

The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”

Jesus tells this story in response to a question about “how to receive eternal life.” Jesus invites the questioner to review what the heart of the faith, “the law of Moses” says about this and he hears, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Jesus then responds with a “right on!” “Do this and you will live!”

Then comes a tricky question,

(Slide 4) ‘Who is my neighbor?’ There is a reason for this question. The questioner, wants to justify, rationalize, or validate his actions and so asks Jesus to clarify what He means.

(Slide 4a) I believe that he is asking, among other things, “Who am I supposed to love? Who am I to be kind to?”

Jesus goes on to tell this story that in that setting probably got a lot of people upset, and thinking at the same time. It is like telling a good story about the school bully doing something good like helping somebody get up after being knocked down on the playground by somebody else.

The Jews and the Samaritans had trouble getting along. It goes back a while in history. The Jews thought that the Samaritans were second-class citizens and were not worthy of their time. But it is one of these Samaritans who shows a seriously wounded Jew an act of great kindness and compassion.

This is a story about caring because the Good Samaritan’s actions illustrate what Character Counts describes as caring:

(Slide 5)

• Be kind – by stopping and taking the time to help the wounded man, the Samaritan was kind

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