My Guess is you can probably think about a time when you did something that was right and good, but you did it in a way that was NOT right and NOT good. I hate it when that happens to me! It underscores just how much I need the Lord to rule in my life.
This last Sunday, my pastor preached on the good Samaritan from Luke chapter 10. As he talked about the priest and the levite who came upon the man who was attacked, beaten and robbed and how they saw that needy man but just continued on their way, I couldn’t help but see myself in them. All the people I have seen in great need, and yet failed to help, began coming to my mind. You probably have seen some of these people yourself; People standing by the road with a sign or people digging through a dumpster. I have long ago lost count of the number of times I have seen one of these, my fellow man, and quickly looked away pretending not to see them. The Samaritan did not do this. When he saw the man, we are told that he had compassion on him. That compassion compelled him to give of himself at great expense.
That message was still ringing in my ears Sunday evening when I was at a local store doing a little shopping. I really did NOT want to be there; It was late and I would have much preferred being at home relaxing - getting ready to retire for the evening. I found what I was looking for as quickly as I could, paid for my catch and headed out the door. It was then that I saw HIM. I recognized him immediately as a man I have had many encounters with and knew him to be particularly needy and quite difficult to reason with about his situation. He seemed uninterested in putting forth any effort to improve his situation and quite content to throw himself on the mercy of others.
And then I did it. The one thing that disgusts me most about me in situations like that. I quickly turned away pretending not to see him. I knew that if I caught his eye, he was going to ask me for something, and it was quite possible that what was supposed to be a very quick trip to the store was going to turn into something requiring much more of my time. But just as I was attempting to look away, he saw me. SHUCKS, I was caught! He had a cart with a few items in it and asked if I could give him a ride to the motel where he was staying. He asked if I could also make a stop along the way and pick up some other things he had stashed at another location. At that very moment, I thought of my pastors’ sermon earlier that day. Was I going to refuse his request and just leave him standing there to do what I wanted to do, or would I dare inconvenience myself to help one of my own in need?
I told him to bring his things and get in the car. But before you applaud my compassionate response to this man in need and label me as a good Samaritan, you should know it really wasn’t out of compassion. Ugh, I HATE to admit that! But it’s true. I did it out of that four-letter-word DUTY. That’s right, I saw a man in need and knew I could meet that need so I did; but I didn’t WANT to! I knew the Lord wanted me to, but I didn’t want to. So what did it profit me? According to 1 Corinthians 13, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. I did the right thing, but I did it wrongly.
The command to love God and love our neighbor is just that - it’s a command, not a suggestion. I don’t have the right to choose who I will love and who I will NOT love. I had no trouble loving myself that night; I knew what I wanted and it wasn’t to be inconvenienced by someone else’s need. Lord help me to love you with every fiber of my being and to truly love those you have created in your image just as you love them.