One of my favorite Bible stories is one with which we are all familiar: the Good Samaritan. I won’t take up time recounting it here (refer to Luke 10). It’s a story that inspires, encourages, and challenges us in our Christian walk. It causes me to reflect on my own life: am I a ‘priest’ or ‘Levite,’ or am I a ‘Samaritan?’
Jesus tells this parable to help explain ‘love.’ An expert in the law was inquiring about what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus answered and confirmed that the key was to live by the two greatest commandments: to love God and love people. It was the second part that needed an explanation. It all seems pretty simple but what does love look like in practice?
This story has new life for me as a parent, as I try to encourage my children and teach them what real love looks like. I believe there are three truths about love you can see in the parable of the Good Samaritan that are critical to pass on to our children.
Love is selfless. True love is not self-seeking (1 Corinthians 13:5). The Samaritan wasn’t thinking about himself. I doubt it was convenient to stop on that roadside. We don’t know where he was heading, but he surely had an appointment or schedule to cause him to be traveling that road. Also, stopping to care for the man certainly had a financial cost, as he paid the innkeeper in town to take care of him. Love is considering others as greater than one’s self. That’s not an easy feat, but one to aspire to attain.
Love involves action. Imagine if the Samaritan took notice of the beaten man on the side of the road. His eyes well up with tears as he looks over the wounds, he comments to passersby about how awful it is and that he hopes he gets some help, then he continues on his way leaving the man on the side of the road. It sounds ridiculous, yet all too familiar in our modern world. According to Jesus’ parable, true love should move us to reach out to our “neighbor” and meet needs when we see them. We need to ask God to help us to see others the way He does and to give us the courage to respond.
God loved us, so we should love others. The parable of the Good Samaritan is a beautiful picture of how we should love people. But, it also reminds us of how God loves us, even when we are at our lowest. Our circumstances don’t limit God’s grace, mercy and love. Being loved in such a way should empower us to extend the same love to others, even if they seem unlovable or if it’s inconvenient.
Love is a complicated subject. There’s nothing like raising children that will show you how little you really know. I can tell my kids all of the right things about love, but unless I put them into practice like the Good Samaritan, odds are nothing is getting through. We know that this is not an area in which we can fail. Love, after all, is the greatest commandment.