The Good Samaritan
But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him” Luke 10:33.
In Luke 10:25-37, Jesus portrays a Samaritan as a good person compared to the Jewish priest and Levite in the story. This is similar to stating that a non-Christian entrepreneur is more honorable than a Christian one, or a layperson demonstrates a greater level of consecration and service than an ordained minister. The truth is this happens all the time. We do not always live up to the standards we profess and sometimes honorable actions come from the most unlikely places. Thus, we must be careful not to pass judgment or make assumptions about others.
In Jesus’ day, Samaritans and Jews did not like each other. Today it would be similar to the way some Christian Americans feel about Muslims or some Democrats feel about Republicans and vice versa. Samaritans were not considered honorable by Jews; therefore, many were probably very surprised that the Messiah chose a Samaritan to demonstrate how we ought to love our neighbors.
In this story a Jewish man, who is astute in the Old Testament law, tests Jesus by asking, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus tells him to refer back to the Old Testament. The man responds, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). And Jesus says to him, ‘You are correct, go and do that.” The man then asks a key question, ”Who is my neighbor?” The Bible states he asked the question to justify himself. In other words it is obvious who his neighbor is, but he claims to be ignorant of that. The man is looking for a legalistic response, maybe a way out of feeling guilty about his current actions. However, in response to his question, Jesus contrasts a priest and Levite who do not help someone in need, due to their legalism with a Samaritan who demonstrates great honor by risking his life to help someone else.
There are many kingdom business owners today, like this man, who do not know who their neighbor is. They participate in all the right activities, say all the right things, and do all the right sacraments but fail to love their neighbors. Loving your neighbors is hard because, like you and me, they are selfish, self-centered and ungrateful. You cannot, however, truly love God if you do not love your neighbor (1 John 4:20-21).
Who then is your neighbor? According to Jesus, he or she is the nearest person to you who needs your help. It could be a friend, family member, coworker, employee, stranger, even an enemy. Good Samaritans are people who are motivated by love for God, and therefore bring aid to others in need. They seek justice in an unjust world. They sacrifice their time and resources to help those in need. They do so because it is the right thing to do and not for recognition or to get something in return. They love all people regardless of their religions, race, or moral standards.
Furthermore, Good Samaritans are kingdom entrepreneurs who use their abundance to bring justice around them at the risk of their own safety and instability. When faced with a situation, they respond as Martin Luther King suggests in his famous speech, I’ve Been to the Mountain Top: They ask, “If I do not help the person, what would happen to them” rather than asking, “If I help the person, what will happen to me?” They love their neighbors by:
- Being bound by love and not the law.
- Showing care and concern for their immediate and extended family.
- Charging fair rates and caring for their customers beyond the transaction.
- Compensating their employees appropriately and showing concern for their well being.
- Engaging in local and global philanthropy according to their means.
I recently visited a kingdom company owned by a Biblical Entrepreneur and heard a wonderful story about an incident that occurred with one of it’s clients and how the company dealt with it. This company owns and manages affordable housing facilities. One of its tenants had a tragedy that led to the death of his child. After some inquiry the staff discovered that the tenant had very limited means. The company decided to cover the entire cost of the funeral services including relocating the family to another unit on their property. This company also goes out of its way to ensure the well being of their staff in the same way. According to a member of the staff, “They do it all the time; this is just the way they do business”. This is a “Good Samaritan Company”. Being a Good Samaritan Company requires that you not only demonstrate love to your clients but to your staff, as well because they, too, are your neighbors.
Evaluate yourself and your company. Are you more like the priest and the Levite who worried more about what would happen to themselves, or the Samaritan who focused on the person in need? The Levite and the priest preserved themselves; the Samaritan preserved the other person. In your company do you focus more on preserving yourself, or do you focus on your staff, clients, vendors, investors and the community you serve?
My prayer for you this week is that the Lord will grant you the grace to love like the Samaritan, asking the question, “If I do not help, what will happen to them?”