Three Responses to People in Need
By Rick Warren
— April 17, 2017
“My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action” (1 John 3:18 GNT).
Probably the most famous story in the Bible about unexpected kindness is the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus told this story to show us what it looks like to love people who are hurting. It’s easy to feel a little guilty when we read this story. At one time or another, we have all passed by somebody in need. The needs of people around us, even in our church or small group, can be so overwhelming that it’s paralyzing. And we ask the question, “What am I supposed to do?”
In this devotional we’ll discover three answers to that question based upon the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
Some people keep their distance (Luke 10:30-31). This was the example the priest gave us in the story. He simply avoided the problem altogether. He didn’t even want to know what the problem was. This is what I call the lifestyle of avoidance. We tell ourselves, “Don’t get too close to people; you may have to help them. You may get your hands dirty.” That was the priest’s problem: he was too “holy” to be helpful. He didn’t want to be stained by the stuff of life. When we live a lifestyle of avoidance, we try to keep all our relationships superficial. If we can keep everyone at arm’s length, we can pretend we don’t see their pain and their needs. If we don’t get involved, we can avoid getting hurt or inconvenienced.
Some people are curious but uninvolved (Luke 10:32). The Levite, who was the second man to walk by the injured man, demonstrated this response. The Bible says he “went over and looked at the man” (Luke 10:32b GNT) before passing him by. In a way, this response is even worse. In the first attitude we “see” the problem from a distance and pretend it isn’t there. In this response, we acknowledge the need through our curiosity, but we don’t do anything to help. When we do this we’re simply saying, “Sorry, I can’t be bothered. I’ve got more important things to do.”
Some people get close enough to care (Luke 10:33-37). Of course, this is the Good Samaritan. He went above and beyond to help the inured man at his own expense. The Bible tells us, “Our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action” (1 John 3:18 GNT). Mercy takes action where others take off. Mercy isn’t afraid to get its hands dirty. And Jesus calls every one of his followers to have the attitude of the Good Samaritan.
Jesus deliberately chose a Samaritan to be the hero in this story, because the Jews hated the Samaritans. Mercy isn’t just about helping people you like or helping people who are just like you. Mercy is about helping people no matter who they are, what they look like, or where they come from.
Talk It Over
Why do you think getting close to someone is connected with caring for him or her?
How do you respond to these three statements:
- Mercy is about helping people no matter who they are, what they look like, or where they come from.
- Mercy takes action where others take off.
- Mercy isn’t afraid to get its hands dirty.
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