Service to Fellow Men

Lesson 1998
Tags: Christian service; Ministry; Love; Luke 10:25-37
Excerpted from Serving God: A Plan for Success
Related Resources: “Blessed Is the One Who Considers the Poor!” An Analysis of Psalm 41


Biblical Text

Luke 10.25-37

25   And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

26   He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?

27   And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

28   And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

29   But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

30   And Jesus answering said, A certain [man] went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded [him], and departed, leaving [him] half dead.

31   And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

32   And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked [on him], and passed by on the other side.

33   But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion [on him],

34   And went to [him], and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

35   And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave [them] to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

36   Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?

37   And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

Exegesis

  • It is natural for those who love God to express concern for their fellow men as well. The command to love our neighbor is a fitting segue to the command to love God with all of our being. It follows, then, that no person who truly loves God will pass up opportunities to serve those created in his image (cf. Jas 3.8-10).
  • It is improper to ask, “Who is my neighbor?” (10.29). Rather, we should be asking, “To whom can I be a neighbor?” (10.36). God wants us to be in the habit of making people our neighbors. When we see a need, we should not stop to ask whether or not it is our responsibility to meet it. The fact that we have seen the need is sufficient responsibility, provided that we have the means to meet the need.

Application

  • We should not tolerate duplicitous behavior—actions that contradict what we profess to believe. We must “practice what we preach.” If we say we love God, we should not hesitate to love our brothers as well (1 Jn 3.17-18; 4.20-21; cf. Gal 5.13-15). We should be broadening our horizons, getting out of our comfort zones, extending God’s love even to those who do not love us or appear to merit our love (Mt 5.43-47).
  • The fictitious Samaritan gave no easy example to follow. His deeds were unpopular, compassionate, inconvenient, sacrificial, and persistent. As such they symbolize heaven’s gracious gift, Jesus, who became flesh so he could die for the enemies he loved (Rom 5.10).
  • J. W. Shepard summarizes the parable of the good Samaritan in the following incisive words: “The neighbor-love renders help when and where needed, having regard to nothing beyond the fact of need. My neighbor is any ‘certain man,’ Jew or Gentile, black or white, rich or poor, learned or ignorant, who needs my help and whom I have power and opportunity to help. A love that makes us do that for every needy soul is the kind of love God had for sinful men when He sent His Son to be their Saviour” (373).

Discussion

  • What are some artificial boundaries we tend to draw too easily, preventing us from loving our neighbors?
  • What can we do to break down the walls of our comfort zones?
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