|photo from BBC.co.uk/education|
“Who is my neighbor?” the teacher of religious law asked Jesus.
In response, Jesus shares the parable of the Good Samaritan, where a Jewish traveler is stripped of his clothing, beaten, and left half dead along the road. First a priest and then a religious leader walk by and observe the poor fellow, but both avoid him. Finally, another man, a Samaritan, comes upon him. Samaritans and Jews generally despised each other, but the Samaritan helps the injured man and pays an innkeeper to continue his care.
Jesus uses this story to teach us about caring for our fellow human beings as we traverse this earthly life. The undeniable truth is that we cannot help everyone in need. Each one of us is inundated with appeals to help others—through emails, snail mail, and posts on Facebook, TV commercials, church bulletins and newsletters from civic organizations. We see individuals on street corners and outside businesses with signs indicating their needs. The stories behind those needs are often sad, sometimes angering, and occasionally unbelievable. So, with our limited resources, we, too ask, “Who is my neighbor?”
As individuals and organizations, we face an ongoing conundrum in trying to figure out whom we can help. Which people are expressing genuine need and which ones are merely asking us to enable them to continue to make unwise choices?
In one of the Quiet Walk devotions posted by Walk Thru the Bible, the author offered four lessons we can learn from the parable of the Good Samaritan. I found these guidelines very insightful in evaluating when we should help. Using Luke 10:25-37 as our template, we discover that we are to assist a person in need when the following general criteria are met:
- He or she comes across our path in the normal course of life;
- He or she has a legitimate need, not of his or her own making;
- He or she cannot help himself or herself;
- We have the ability to meet the need.
Amazingly, within hours of reading the Good Samaritan devotional, Dick and I were approached with an appeal for funds. We weren’t sure how or if we should help. When we considered the request in light of these four guiding principles, the answer was clear! I hope, as you prayerfully ponder aiding those in need, that you find these suggestions from Quiet Walk as helpful as I did.
©2016 Pamela D. Williams