We DoDeWo’s are not the only ones who struggle with
who we should help and how best to do so.
Don’t all Christians struggle with who to help and who to ignore?
Do we give money to the guy on the corner with the
Do we give food to our next-door neighbor who is a
Do we tithe and write checks to charities?
It’s hard to know when to help.
We don’t want to be callous, but we also
don’t want to hurt the person in the long run.
Jesus has an interesting exchange with a guy who seems to
know best. He knows the Jewish law and what it teaches about
God and others.
Let’s take a peek:
One day an expert
in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: ‘Teacher,
what should I do to inherit eternal life?’
Jesus replied, ‘What does the law of Moses say? How
do you read it?’
The man answered, ‘”You must love the Lord your God with all your heart,
all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.” And, ‘’Love your neighbor as yourself.”’
‘Right!’ Jesus told him. ‘Do this and you will live!’
(Luke 10:25-28 NLT)
In modern parlance, Jesus would have said, “Dude!
You nailed it!”
But Luke gives us an interesting insight to
The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus,
‘And who is my neighbor?’ (Luke 10:29)
Interesting. “Justify his
actions”—what does that mean? Is he
trying to impress Jesus with his knowledge?
Is he trying to impress the crowd listening in? Is he rather stingy, and helps his neighbor
only when he feels like it? Does he help
his Jewish neighbors but treats all others with contempt?
This man wants to know exactly who his neighbor
So, in other words, is he really
minimum I gotta do to keep the Law as I help others?
Funny, isn’t it?
How often do we look for doing just the minimum required to be obedient,
so we can say we are doing right?
deep in our hearts, we are holding back love.
We view our obedience as just one more item we check off our “I am being
Even we CoDeWo’s do this—we look like we are doing
right but our love is limited or gone, washed away by years of rescuing.
We are exhausted inside.
Jesus doesn’t answer the man directly, but tells a
This story has a lovely truth
tucked inside of it.
‘A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to
Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat
him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
‘By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man
lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over
and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.
‘Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw
the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan
soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the
man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of
him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling
him, “Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you
the next time I’m here.”
‘Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to
the man who was attacked by bandits?’ Jesus asked.
The man replied, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’
Then Jesus said, ‘Yes, now go and do the same.’ (Luke 10:30-37 NLT)
You’re Kidding, Right Jesus?
Everyone in the Jewish community despises
They are considered half-breeds,
having intermarried with pagans earlier in their history.
Jewish people avoid Samaritans whenever they can.
So, Jesus putting a Samaritan center stage is rather shocking to His
This despised Samaritan is unwilling to pass by
the Jewish man, the way his fellow Jews had done.
Perhaps his fellow Jews felt the man in the
ditch got what he deserved, for no one travels alone.
The roads then are full of thieves and
This man, by travelling alone,
put himself at risk.
The Jewish men, who scorn and walk past the
injured man, are religious leaders. They know the Law.
The irony here is Samaritans only have the
first five books of Moses for their Old Testament, whereas the Jews have a much
larger body of God’s Word.
five books are considered “The Law” by the Jews.
This despised Samaritan understands far better who
his neighbor is than the religious guys with the whole shooting match.
Jesus is answering a question from a religious
Is Jesus saying that it’s way too easy to
judge someone and move on than to see yourself in the faces of others?
That our actions speak louder than
That the Law says, “Love your
neighbor as yourself?” Would you want to be left in a ditch and have your
fellow Jews walk right past you with no regard?
Compassion drives our Samaritan to help this
injured man. He takes care of the man’s
wounds. This injured Jewish man, who in
earlier days, may have ignored or scorned a Samaritan, now finds in him a
savior. The Samaritan puts him on his donkey. The Samaritan walks. They arrive at an inn, and there he makes provision
for the injured man. The Samaritan takes
care of him for the night, and then he leaves the man in the care of the
innkeeper. He pays him to cover expenses;
if the expenses exceed what he gave, he will bring more.
Jesus then wraps the story up with a
question: Who is the real neighbor to
the injured man? The answer is very
disturbing to His Jewish audience: a despised Samaritan. The religious man who originally asked the question
does not even use the word, “Samaritan” in his response to Jesus. He just says it’s “the one who showed him
mercy” that is the true neighbor.
Jesus then boils it down: Go out and show mercy,
for everyone is your neighbor, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
I know what you are thinking dear CoDeWo: See! The man helped the other guy! That’s what I try to do!
Yes, I get it.
But let’s recast this story in full
CoDeMo and see that it’s not us helping others that is the problem.
It’s when we do things for them that they can
do for themselves.
It’s when we lessen
the consequences of their poor decisions.
It’s when we help them wade deeper into to sin.
All of this “help” becomes the problem.
A New Version: “Sam I Am”
One day, businessman Joe decides to go to
He has some business to do and
he can’t wait for his partner to join him.
Joe knows it is dangerous to travel alone, but he wants to get
He throws caution to the wind,
and heads out.
He figures God will watch
Hey! I am a good person! I love God!
I know we are not to test God, but I trust He will watch over me on the
road. Yes, I know, I need to go with
Bill, but Bill boring to talk to and I need to get going.
So away he goes.
The first few hours are exhilarating.
He sees no bandits. He has plenty
of water and the weather is fine. But
after awhile, the sun grows hot and he grows tired. Joe is no longer very alert. He doesn’t notice the three nasty-looking
dudes dogging him. All he is thinking is,
hot. I just wish I was at Jericho. They’ve got a great taco place in town.
Joe wakes up a few hours later, bleeding, woozy and in a ditch. All of his belongings are gone, including his
money bag. He just lies there.
Then a priest comes by. The priest can’t be bothered to help
Joe. He can’t get on down the road fast
enough. Ditto for the deacon. Both are gone faster than you could say, “Idiot.”
Then Sam happens by. Sam is the kind of guy who loves everyone,
and looks with compassion upon anyone who is hurting.
He immediately runs over to Joe.
“Are you OK?” Sam asks.
“Do I look OK?” the man replies.
“I got run over by a taco truck? Heck if I know.”
“Oh. Let me
Sam goes over to his donkey, and grabs some olive
oil and linen strips.
“You’re gonna have to stay still, Mister.”
“Easy for you to say. But I’ll try.”
Sam gets the man bandaged up, and helps him to his
donkey. Sam hoists him up. Mercy, Sam’s donkey, looks at him with a funny
look. But she starts walking.
“Would you like some water?” Sam. “I don’t have much. We will need to share.”
“Thanks.” The man gulps it all.
Sam doesn’t realize that until about 20 minutes
later when he is parched. Thankfully, the Jericho Desert Inn is just ahead. They both stop in and Sam refills his water
bag. He buys a bag of chips and some
salsa. He buys the man an umbrella to
keep him out of the sun. Sam has no money left over for himself, so he
grabs some jerky out of his pocket and gnaws on that for awhile. They still have several miles to go to get to
Sam’s house. He is feeling happy, for he
just loves helping people. Sam still
doesn’t know the man’s name, but Sam is glad the man is happily devouring all
the chips and salsa.
The man is
doing quite despite being beat up. I am
glad I came along.
But Sam is growing hungrier and thirstier. He feels guilty asking the man for some of
the chips and salsa. But he doesn’t ask.
I wasn’t the
one beat up and left for dead, remember?
Sam is relieved when his house comes into view. Oh, the joy in Sam’s heart when he walks into his
front door! He sits down for a
second. He jumps right back up. He must help the man get off Mercy. Sam is tired, hungry and footsore, but the
man needs help. Sam feels so selfish. Sam runs to Mercy, and sees that the man is
asleep. Sam gently helps him off and
leads the man through the front door and into his bedroom, where a comfy bed
awaits. Sam lays the man down. The man is snoring in no time. Sam sleeps on his rather lumpy couch.
hey! I wasn’t the one who got beat
up! I can handle this!
The man slowly recovers. Sam notices the man has taken off the
bandages, and everything looks fine, but the man keeps complaining about how
much pain he’s in. Even after a month, Sam is still racing to the
man’s bedside, bringing him food and drink and trying to get that old TV to
Sam is exhausted.
The man sleeps irregular hours, watches that TV day and night, and never
seems to care if Sam is asleep. The man demands Sam’s attention all the
Sam questions this but his guilt silences his
I didn’t get
beat up, remember?
Another month goes by. Every time Sam thinks of asking the man to
leave, he feels selfish and guilty. The
same old line runs through his head:
it wasn’t me who got beat u and left for dead.
Finally, one day at the Jericho Market, Sam runs
into Fred, the innkeeper.
“Wow. For a
single guy, you sure do buy a lot!” comments Fred with a big grin on his face.
not all for me. That guy who got beat up
is staying with me.”
got injured, yes, but by now he must be fine.
You need to help him on his way.
He’s taking advantage of you.”
Sam feels very resentful at Fred’s remark.
“But he needs me.
He still hurts. I am showing him
“He needs to get up and get going. Laying around isn’t helping him. Yeah, at first, he needed to recuperate in
bed and have your help. But now, he
needs to be up and about.”
know. What do I do?”
“Tell him by Friday he needs to go.
He can stay at my inn on his way home.”
“But what if he gets mad at me?
What if he won’t leave?
Man, I could sure use the sleep.”
have a good heart.
He knows this.
You are feeling needed and have purpose in
your life with this guy.
But you aren’t
helping him anymore.
You are allowing
him to take advantage of you and your limited resources.
You enabling him to stay lazy and
How does that honor God?”
what will my neighbors think?
I get compliments
all the time from them on how caring I am.
They think I really show the love of God in my life.”
your neighbors coming over with food?
Are they offering to take him into their homes?”
“I want to honor God in all I do.”
“Then turn him loose, Sam, and trust God to work
in his life.
You are not the only person
in the world who can help this man. He needs to move on in his life.
You helped him get on his feet, but that
doesn’t mean you walk for him. Even if he finds someone else to take advantage
of and doesn’t move on, that is his choice.
You have done your best.
freedom you are giving him now just feeds his fleshly desire to do nothing.
That’s sin, Sam.”
Sam pays for his groceries and they both walk out
to the donkey lot.
He is still angry
inside with how Fred doesn’t see the man the way Sam does, but he still thanks
Sam, deep inside his heart, knows that Fred has a
It was only many years later, walking in the hot
sun, did Sam admit that this episode had not turned out the way he thought it
would. He had pictured a grateful man, patting him on the
back and walking down the road with a skip in his step. Instead, what he got was the man begging him to
give him Mercy, because his elbow still hurt.
Sam was so tired, so resentful and so glad the man was leaving, that he
gave him Mercy. He watched the two of them disappear down the
Boy, do I need
Sam stopped, lowered his head and prayed,
Teach me to
give mercy the way You do. Your Word
says to love my neighbor as myself. I
would have wanted mercy had I been in that ditch, but giving the man Mercy was
way more than You required of me. Let my mercy
reflect You and do for others only what they cannot do for themselves.
can, however, or refuse to do so, let me be a good neighbor and set them
free. Don’t let my
kind of mercy get in the way of Yours.