I read a convicting teaching from David Platt on the parable of the Good Samaritan. In the passage of Scripture where we find the story (Luke 10:30-37), a teacher of the law had challenged Jesus’s commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves by asking, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus proceeded to answer the man’s question by telling the aforementioned parable.
As Pastor Platt related, Jesus showed the answer wasn’t about who we should love, but rather the focus was on who is the one who is loving. And this is the point: all who claim to be followers of Christ must live in a way that is always marked by love. We are to be the one who is loving to all people at all times.
How often do we go through our days looking for someone to love? I’m going to go out on a limb and presume few of us wake up each morning asking the question, “Whom can I love today?” Our first thoughts – and indeed most of our thoughts throughout the day – are generally focused on ourselves, not on others. Like the priest and the Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan, we are focused on our plans and are hurriedly rushing between tasks to get where we’re going. It is rare when we take the time to look around us and notice the needs that are there in every direction we look.
The point of the parable is to ask ourselves, “Who is loving?” Are we the one who will be loving to those in our path? Will we be loving to our friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, and strangers? Think about this the next time you find yourself in a grocery store or Wal-Mart. Don’t be so caught up in the busyness of your shopping to see those in need in every aisle. Be loving. Live like Jesus. Picture Jesus walking through the store with you. Would He hurry past the people there, or would He pause, make eye contact, and offer a smile and a kind word? Are we acting in a way that would be pleasing to God?
One reason people were so drawn to Jesus was He noticed them. He didn’t look away. He engaged. We don’t live like this. Instead, we are focused on ourselves and not others. Our mission seems to be to accomplish what we need as quickly as possible and move on. This is not living like Jesus. If we want to be His disciples, something desperately needs to change. Our attitude toward others needs to shift from inconvenience to intention. Like the Samaritan, we must be the one who is loving, the one who does not glance at a need and pass by on the other side.
This is not easy. Our culture has conditioned us to be self-centered, self-focused, and self-absorbed. This is the work of Satan. He has shifted our focus from the love of God to the love of self. You cannot be a disciple of Jesus and not love others. All people have been created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). All are worthy of our sacrifice, attention, and love. I know this because all people were worth these things to Jesus. Our duty is to look like Him. Will you be the one who is loving? Your eternity hangs on your answer (Matthew 25:31-46).