Monday, September 30, 2019

The Good Samaritan: Loving Others in Unexpected Ways

Matthew wrote the reason why Jesus’ spoke in parables: All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world” (13:34-35).

What is a parable? Listed below two descriptions and its significance:
1.     A parable is a fictitious or made-up story designed to teach a lesson through comparison.[1]
2.     Parables are told so that only those who really care will come to know the truth.[2]

In this parable, Jesus focused on the significance of the Samaritan. According to Biblical Archaeology Society Staff,[3]Looking at the Jewish social structure, one can observed the Samaritans were viewed closely with Gentiles than Jews.” What practical lessons can we learn from this parable in today’s fast-paced world? First, it is about applying love to an individual not based on one’s status of life. In this parable, Jesus taught genuine love is applied beyond our situation because of our love for God. Given the opportunity, our response comes from God’s love deposited in us by Jesus’ love and sacrifice. The apostle John stated, We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother (1 John 4:19-21). 

Here’s an illustration to compare: 
In an engine-room it is impossible to look into the great boiler and see how much water it contains. But running up beside it is a tiny glass tube, which serves as a gauge. As the water stands in the little tube, so it stands in the great boiler. When the tube is half full, the boiler is half full; when the tube is empty, the boiler is empty. Do you ask, "How do I know I love God? I believe I love Him, but I want to know." Look at the gauge. Your love for your brother is the measure of your love for God. ~ S. S. Chronicle

Next, applying love to an individual is not anchored on the prevailing culture and social structure. Jesus taught an enduring principle of loving others beyond the current culture and outside of our comfort zones. When faced with a hard decision, God’s love becomes the only measuring stick of our response. Here’s what the Scriptures say about this: There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love (1 John 4:18).
Here’s a story illustrating this lesson:
A criminal under sentence of death was waiting the day of execution. A minister attended him. All efforts to lead him to repentance seemed unavailing. Going home, he met a man who was known all over the district for his life and good works. The conversation turned upon the criminal. The minister requested the elder to go and see him. He did so, and sitting beside the criminal, he took his hand in his, and said, with much fervor and simplicity, "Wasn't it great love in God to send His Son into the world to die for sinners like you and me?" In a moment, the fountain of the man's heart was broken up and he wept bitter tears, and afterward said, "When the minister spoke to me, it seemed like one standing far above me, but when that good man came in and sat down by my side, and classed himself with me, and said, 'Wasn't it great love in God to send His Son into the world to die for sinners like you and me?' That’s when I couldn't stand it any longer and repented." ~Author Unknown

Finally, applying love to an individual is not anchored on one’s capability or ability. Jesus taught applying love involves a willingness to go the extra mile. The only source of strength in ministering to others in need comes from God’s love as the only source of our motivation whenever we do it. The apostle Paul stated, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10). Dr. M. Scott Peck explained it well, Sacrificial love has transforming power. Genuine love is volitional rather than emotional. The person who truly loves does so because of a decision to love. 

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The apostle Paul summarized what genuine love is all about: For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:14). Jesus, in sharing this parable, expanded the application of God’s love based on the law beyond people’s comfort zones. In applying God’s love genuinely, it is not just applying love based on God’s law but applying Jesus’ brand of loving others as his disciples:  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). 

No matter how anyone spins the story, Jesus’ love for people stands above any story and leading many into experiencing God’s genuine love. In the end, Jesus illustrated in this parable an expectation for God’s people to become a Good Samaritan at all times.