Who Is the Good Samaritan?

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Most people are familiar with the story of the good Samaritan. This is how it reads in Luke 10:30-37:

Jesus made answer and said, A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho; and he fell among robbers, who both stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

And by chance a certain priest was going down that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

And in like manner a Levite also, when he came to the place, and saw him, passed by on the other side.

But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he was moved with compassion, and came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on them oil and wine; and he set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

And on the morrow he took out two shillings, and gave them to the host, and said, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, I, when I come back again, will repay thee.

Which of these three, thinkest thou, proved neighbor unto him that fell among the robbers?

And he said, He that showed mercy on him. And Jesus said unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

This story comes to mind in today's tough economy. A lot of people are struggling these days. Homes are being foreclosed on by banks, people are going years without work, unemployment benefits have run out, more and more good people are having to go on food stamps just to eat, and many live in fear of a medical emergency that would certainly force them into bankruptcy.

The struggling person may feel alone and abandoned by his friends, especially when they show no concern. More and more this writer is hearing intolerance in the voices of those who are employed. They adopt the attitude that those who are unemployed are simply lazy and prefer to live off the "hard-earned" money of others - i.e. welfare.

In the Christian community the usual response to friends who are unemployed is "I'll pray for you." Whether the Christian does pray for the unemployed person, or whether it's just a response to get out of an awkward situation, is between them and God.

This writer doesn't underestimate the power of prayer, but he can also imagine that the priest and may have said the same thing in passing to the man who had been robbed. This writer also hears Christians say that the person in need has to ask for help first and then they will provide assistance - sometimes expecting repayment! Again, we don't read of the victim asking for help first before help was provided.

Many times prayer is the only thing a Christian can offer, and if he does pray for the person, that's fine. But if the Christian is in a position to help, either financially or by helping the unemployed person find work, does he not have an obligation to help in whatever way he can? If that Christian fails to do what he can, does he not fall into the category of the priest and Levite who could have helped but didn't?

Do you know someone in that situation? Do you ever ask how he is making out, or ask what you can do to help? Could you make his day a little brighter by giving him a gift certificate for a movie or restaurant? Chances are he or she hasn't even been able to treat themselves to either one lately. Do you really care or are you more concerned about your own life? If you do care, even if you can't help, do you let them know? Are you really acting like a Christian or are you going to live out the example of the priest and Levite?

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