Serving Others in the Time of Covid-19

The story of the Good Samaritan is familiar to many of us.  A Jewish man travelling to Jericho gets robbed and left for dead by the side of the road.  Two men encounter him, and simply cross the road to the other side and ignore him.  A third man stops and  not only bandages the man’s wounds, but gives him a ride to town, putting him up at an inn, and picking up his tab for however many days it will take for him to recover (Luke 10).  In this story there are a couple of observations that stand out to me.

  • The first two men are a priest and a Levite, two people whom you would expect to stop and help someone (like a police officer, minister, or paramedic today).  For some reason they allow their fear, busyness, un-comfortableness, suspicion, or unwillingness to sacrifice of themselves to guide them in the decision to not help the man lying by the side of the road.
  • I am sure these men had a good rationalization as to why they failed to stop.  We all do in such situations.  “It might be a set up and dangerous to me”,” If the person wants help he will ask for it”,” I have more important things to do”, “I can’t be seen actually doing this”, “I might get my shirt dirty etc…”  These are the types of thoughts and excuses that we use to convince ourselves that we are better off not getting involved.
  • The one person who does stop is a Samaritan.  The Samaritans were a rival ethnicity to the Jewish people.  They lived in their own areas, had their own forms of worship, and in general did not get along well with Jewish people.  There were all sorts of laws, social customs, and mores that regulated how the two groups could interact.  The ethnic tension between them was deep and divisive.

Yet despite all the barriers, this Samaritan decides to go out of his way and help someone whom society has told him he should not touch, should not have compassion towards, and someone whom he should avoid.  The Samaritan is even willing to take several big risks.  When he escorts him into Jericho , he risks the wraith of the locals who might become angry with him for  having contact with a Jewish man and very well might blame him for all that befell this man.  He risks financial hardship when he promises to cover all the medical expenses for the man’s recovery.  He risks all the inconveniences of having to go out of his way to help him, as well as returning on his home journey to check on his welfare.

But all of the risks do not seem important compared to the need to show mercy.  The Samaritan is willing to take these risks so that he can show love through an act of service.  Too often we let all sorts of obstacles and excuses prevent us from doing simple acts of service towards the people we love (let alone strangers).  There seems to be so many things that get in our own way.  Our own pride, busy schedules, fear of being taken advantage of, or our inability to give of ourselves to name a few.  We allow excuses and rationalizations to guide our decisions instead of love.  For some, acts of service is their primary love language.  The language that they need to be loved in.  We simply can’t allow anything to stop us from loving others through acts of service, it is too important.  One final observation.  If it is difficult for you to perform acts of service towards people in your life, check your own love tank.  We will never be able to adequately love in this way, if we ourselves are not filled with love.  It can’t be done for very long.  We need to have our tank filled via our own relationships with people and with God.  This fuels us to love others (or fuels them to love us) through acts of service.

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