But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
The story of the Good Samaritan is Jesus’ answer to the question, “Who is my neighbor?” But it’s not really about who the neighbor is as much as it is who we are supposed to be. In the story, a man needed help. He was hurt and left to die. He needed someone to do something for him that he couldn’t do himself. And only the Samaritan was willing to stop and intervene in his situation. He saw a need and he saw value in the wounded and he saw that there was something he could do to make a difference. So he treated the man how he would want to be treated. He demonstrated those godly characteristics of compassion and mercy. He placed someone else above himself.
In a way, this parable sums up all of Jesus’ teaching about who we are supposed to be. So maybe we can model ourselves after this Samaritan. He thought of others more than himself, exhibiting the selflessness Jesus wants us to have. He was humble and didn’t think helping this man was beneath him or that he was too important to get involved in a messy situation. He was kind and gracious, which are important traits in a harsh and uncaring world. He was merciful and generous in giving what he had for a man he didn’t even know.
This is the heart that God wants to produce in His people—not like the Pharisees who try to skirt around the edges of righteousness, but those who will dive into the center of what God truly wants us to do. We demonstrate what is in our hearts by how we treat other people, especially those who are helpless and needy and can’t pay us back. That is a true Christ-like heart and attitude, because didn’t Jesus come to us in our poor and needy state to do something for us we couldn’t do for ourselves?
Loving our neighbors as ourselves isn’t just about having good and positive feelings about everyone or doing favors for those who live nearby. It’s not even necessarily about making a big sacrifice or doing something drastic. Mostly it simply involves following what God has told us to do, being the kind of people He calls us to be. It’s about being willing to make a difference when it would be easier not to, caring when no one else does, and not turning a blind eye to those around us. So may we be willing to love like this Samaritan but, more than that, to love like Jesus does.