How Empathetic Are We?

There are at least three ways we can view a fellow human being:

As someone to exploit

Jesus told a story about some thugs who rob a traveler, beat him up, and leave him severely wounded by the roadside.

Who would be so cruel? Apparently, those who are concerned only about themselves and don’t care who gets hurt, as long as they get what they want.

As someone to ignore

Another traveler comes along—a priest. When he sees the victim lying helplessly by the road, he passes on by.

Then comes a Levite. He does exactly as the priest did—he sees but does nothing.

Surely these two religious people would never stoop so low as to rob and beat a stranger. But do they feel anything for the man? Do they help?

They distance themselves from the man’s suffering—both physically and emotionally.

They leave him lying there—bleeding and alone.

As someone to serve

Then comes a third traveler—a Samaritan. Like the priest and Levite, he too sees the poor fellow.

Unlike the priest and Levite, he feels for him.

But he doesn’t just feel sorry for him—he acts immediately.

He dresses the man’s wounds. He takes him to an inn where he can be cared for—and even pays the bill!

And we?

So how do we view others—as people we can use for our own selfish purposes? As problems to ignore because getting involved can be messy, expensive, and time-consuming? Or as souls to serve?

Jesus’ parable graphically illustrates the Second Commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:25-37).

Jesus told the parable in response to a lawyer’s question, “And who is my neighbor?”

After describing how the priest, Levite, and Samaritan each responded, Jesus asked him, “Which of these three proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?”

“The one who showed mercy toward him,” said the lawyer.

“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do the same.’”

Did he?

Will we?

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Going Out of Our Way

Admirable actions

The Good Samaritan did something the priest and Levite were unwilling to do. He went way out of his way, expending time, effort, and money to aid the wounded traveler. He was willing to be seriously inconvenienced (Luke 10:25-37).

The father of the Prodigal didn’t wait for his son to come to him—he ran to meet him! He threw a big party in his joy over his son’s return. The elder brother was anything but happy about his father’s giving his younger brother such a lavish homecoming (Luke 15:11-32).

The master of the servant who owed him millions of dollars cancelled the entire debt. He didn’t have to do this—he chose to. The forgiven servant, however, was not willing to pass on the grace he had received. He insisted that a fellow servant pay him what he owed, turning a deaf ear to his pleas for mercy, which echoed his own pitiful pleading when he himself had begged his master to be patient with him (Matthew 18:21-35).

Marked contrasts

The priest and Levite, the elder brother, and the unforgiving servant are cold and cruelly uncaring. In contrast, the Good Samaritan, the welcoming father, and the merciful master show warmth, love, and grace.

Admirable attitude

One word all three parables have in common is compassion (Matthew 18:27; Luke 10:33; 15:20). Compassion is what moved the master to forgive his servant, the Samaritan to stop and help, and the father to run out to meet his returning son.

Is it any wonder that this same word compassion is used numerous times of our Lord (Matthew 9:36; 14:14; 15:32; 20:34; Mark 1:41; Luke 7:13)?

Can others see by our actions a reflection of His compassionate heart?

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The Man Jesus Said to be Like

The man we all admire

We have laws named for him.

He even made the dictionary! Good Samaritan: “a person who gratuitously gives help or sympathy to those in distress” (www.dictionary.com).

Jesus’ parable features four kinds of people:

First, the violent. Thugs mugged a traveler, leaving him half dead.

Second, the victimized. The Greek word used for his wounds is trauma.

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Third, the callous. When the priest and Levite came along, they “passed by on the other side.”

Fourth, the compassionate. It says that the priest, Levite, and Samaritan all saw the injured man. Only one is said to have felt compassion.

The man we should all be like

The Samaritan moved quickly from empathy to aid, giving his time, money, and himself.

Jesus concludes by telling the listener, “Go and do the same” (Luke 10:37).

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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