The problem facing Believers is the same one facing a well trained and educated lawyer who stood up and asked Jesus a question about how he might inherit, or “earn”, eternal life. The problem is that we, like this man, grow too exacting in our Walk – working up exclusions and finding excuses not to act. You’ll remember this exchange (captured in Luke) ended with Christ relating the story of the Good Samaritan – a story of three different outworkings, three different personality types. As always, we will learn of them and self-assess to determine if we see ourselves.
- What You have is Mine
- What I have is Mine
- What I have is Yours
What You Have is Mine
The story, of course, starts with the Thieves:
- A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead – Luke 10:30
The thief thinks only of himself. The outworking of his personality is: What you have is mine. But before you start reading past this portion of the story – citing the fact that you don’t steal from people – let me ask you to revisit your conclusions. To want what someone has, to envy them, is a form of theft – and so is jealousy.
- Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another – Galatians 5:26
- For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing – James 3:16
Notice that jealousy is wanting what someone has, while selfish ambition is on the opposite scale, not wanting anything except selfish pursuits. That’s the first type, how about the second?
What I have is Mine
Now here we speak of the Priest and the Levite who passed by the wounded and dying man:
- And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side – Luke 10:31-32
Now both these men were “going down” to Jericho from Jerusalem. That they were descending from Jerusalem means their term of service at the Temple had ended and they were headed home. Note both men “saw” the victim. They were well aware of what they were looking at. And they avoided contact, but for different reasons. The Priest (like maybe you and I) conjured religious reasons to avoid helping – perhaps like the one below:
- Then the Lord said to Moses, Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them: No one shall defile himself for a dead person among his people – Leviticus 21:1
Churches everywhere refuse to “fellowship” outside their little camps and clubhouses. They have nothing to do with you if you sing modern praise music or use more than one Bible translation in Service. Like the Priest, we walk by while the world lies bleeding – not linking arms with other Evangelical churches to meet the needs of others.
The Levite walks by for a different reason. The Levites underpinned all the structures and processes of Temple practice. Behind the scenes (mostly) but certain all would come to a halt without them. But these folks remind me of some folks who require a certain structure be adhered to at all costs. That there is only one way to do things and that from wisdom of their own. But in the end – the world lies dying without help
- These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence – Colossians 2:23
What I have is Yours
Of course the hero of the story is a Samaritan – someone with whom Jews had little or no dealings with. In our era, someone of a different faith system.
- But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion – Luke 10:33
Note the key word here. Though, like the others, “he saw” the wounded man – but unlike them – he had compassion. And this is the ingredient you and I need to garner and nurture – MERCY. Even the lawyer sees this at the end of the story. But first lets get instruction from how this man acts towards the needs of others:
- And came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ – Luke 10:34-35
He gives oil and wine (both costly), he gives his time (note he stays overnight to watch over the wounded man), and he gives promise that he will remain engaged with the recovery by saying he’ll come back to cover additional expenses. To me, this doesn’t sound like the modern church. We like things clinical and with minimum involvement (preferably without any involvement and letting others do the dirty work) And we certainly want nothing to do with repeated interactions with need – once will do nicely thank you.
Who was the neighbor?
At this point Jesus asks who was the neighbor to the man. There are some important insights to the lawyers answer, and to Jesus’ final instruction.
- Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands? And he said, the one who showed mercy toward him. And he said, The one who showed mercy toward him. Then Jesus said to him: Go and do the same – Luke 10:36-37
The key is mercy. What levels of mercy would you say are present in your own actions? Does mercy factor in your decision making, in your dealings with people, in your reaction to needs that are presented to you. Note Jesus tells him to get off his bum and get into the game. Love is a verb – Believers must act and bring their faith to life in what they do.
The Missing Person
But there is a fourth person in this story that routinely gets overlooked. If you guessed the wounded man, you’d be right. His condition adds a fourth condition to our three previous outworkings:
- What You have is Mine
- What I have is Mine
- What I have is Yours
- What I need is Yours
There is no one looking out for the poor and destitute in your Community. There needs are real, they are forsaken and ignored in their physical condition and they are bankrupt in their spiritual condition. This is the place where you and I come in. What they need, we possess. And year after year, the world’s answers become more dominant because the church sits on its duff and does nothing to help. The Word teaches that the help of the World system is no help at all. There will be no one to care for the perishing, the scattered, the broken and the ones standing for righteousness.
- For behold, I am going to raise up a shepherd in the land who will not care for the perishing, seek the scattered, heal the broken, or sustain the one standing, but will devour the flesh of the fat sheep and tear off their hoofs – Zechariah 11:11
God wants to know where we were when He called us to intervene, to act, to get involved in helping meet the needs of those in need!
- Why was there no man when I came? When I called, why was there none to answer? – Isaiah 50:2
- I opened to my beloved, But my beloved had turned away and had gone! My heart went out to him as he spoke. I searched for him but I did not find him; I called him but he did not answer me – Song of Solomon 5:6
- For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, do not harden your heart – Psalm 95:7-8
- For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land – Deuteronomy 15:11
- He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker, but he who is gracious to the needy honors Him – Proverbs 14:31
- He will have compassion on the poor and needy, and the lives of the needy he will save – Psalm 72:13
- Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good – Titus 2:14
So today I ask you “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” Which of these three are you?