When I wrote “Passing by on the other Side”, I was thinking of some of the reasons we do not help others. I mentioned the cultural mentality that flavors our beliefs. I believe that is a large part of the problem. America, our country was built by individuals who pulled themselves up and did whatever was necessary. They built an empire with blood and sweat. In the early years there was no social safety net other than family and Church. I can still hear my Grandmother saying, “God helps them who help themselves.” Which she thought was a direct quote from Scriptures.
We are a rich nation by world standards, and we are proud of what we have. To follow Jesus, we too must face the issue of the rich young ruler of asking where our love and loyalty are-our money and possessions, or Jesus?
How many times have you heard someone say that we need to be good stewards with what God has given us? What exactly does that mean? Is that a Biblical concept or a twisting of the Scriptures? Do we say that as an excuse to not help others, to keep what is mine?
Other times we may pass by because we don’t want to get involved with our time. The Samaritan invested time to help, and invested time to return to the innkeeper to pay any remaining bill. We live such busy lives. To get involved helping will crimp our style. We might have to give up some leisure activity to use the time helping.
Lastly there is the issue of prejudice and judging. Often times we pass by because we believe the needy person made wrong choices that helped cause their problems. We tend to be judgmental and withhold help because it was their own fault, and we all know there are consequences for sin. Or we refuse to help financially because they spend money on habits that we classify as “sin against the temple of God” (our body). Perhaps we refuse to give time because they don’t meet our standards in all they do for leisure, or perhaps they are not meeting our standards searching for a job, or …
Oh… I just heard another excuse… “They are family”. It appears to most people, the principle being taught by Jesus doesn’t apply to family! How many times do we see or hear families that are torn apart by money issues. There is a branch of our tree that is infested with nuts that seem to need help and in our opinion are lazy and no good. Our particular branch is hard working and self sufficient. Are we going to be good Stewards with what God blessed us with and what we have worked hard for? Or are we going to throw our hard earned resources away on those undeserving?
It seems that our version of the story of the Good Samaritan assumes that the person lying on the road is not a bum! In some ways we have placed an importance upon them that makes them somehow deserving to be helped. This gives us an out when we feel someone is not deserving. Once again we have lost something in the cultural translation because a Samaritan was considered lower than a dog by the devout Jews. There was no question in the Disciples’ minds about whether the man lying on the road was deserving or not.
Judging the hurting person has been recorded since the Bible times. It was one of Jesus teachings (that we need to avoid judgmental condemnation). The book of Job is a story of wrongful judgment.
The main point is that most of us know the story of the Good Samaritan but also most of us don’t think it applies to us. I mean, anyway, when was the last time you found someone bleeding and almost dead on the side of the road?
What is your excuse to stay blinded to the hurting people around you? What would Jesus ask you to do in response?