Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
Jesus asks this question after telling the story of the Good Samaritan. In that story, the priest and the Levite had passed by, but the Samaritan was willing to stop and get involved in a messy situation. So who do we emulate from this story? Not the one with the title or the position who looked at a dying man and simply walked on. Not the one who knew the law so well but chose to ignore the need of another. But Jesus wants us to the be the one who will show mercy.
Our lives of following God are not just about knowing the law, but actually obeying it in real life, in real situations, among real people out in the world. We please God when we’re acting like Him and showing mercy to others. It’s not about accumulating knowledge and engaging in intellectual theological conversations. It’s not about learning just to always have the right answer. It’s about living out what God has told us to do.
Love in action is what is going to actually make a difference in this world. The Samaritan didn’t walk past the injured man and say, “I love you,” but he got down on his knees, was up close to his suffering, bore the burden on his back, and spent the time and the money that it took. And that’s what Jesus did for us. He didn’t shout down His love from afar, but He came into our world. He felt our pain. He shared in our burdens. He laid aside His glory and took up His cross. Basically, He tended to us at the side of the road as we lay there bleeding and dying. He eased our pain. He gave us hope for healing and a new tomorrow.
What are we going to do with the knowledge that we have, the Scripture that we know, the commands that have been given? Are we content to talk a good talk, or are we going to live it out? Obedience to God is in the doing—showing mercy, offering forgiveness, being kind, giving something, going somewhere, saying something, doing what is required. It may take time. It may take money. It may hurt. It may be inconvenient. But it’s Christlike. And isn’t that ultimately what we are striving for?