The Parable of the Good Samaritan is familiar. Two religious guys avoid the beat up guy in the ditch, while the lowly, despised Samaritan stops and helps him out.
Obviously the point of the parable is love your neighbor. It was given in answer to the question, “And who is my neighbor?” Everyone, especially those in need. Brings to mind the “when I was hungry, you fed me; when I was thirsty, you gave me drink.”
There’s a little phrase in there about the Samaritan that was brought to my attention, I don’t know if it’s significant or not. Notice the way it describes how the three men were traveling:
–there came down a certain priest that way
–a Levite, when he was at the place
–a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed
The two religious guys are just described as having gone that way; the Samaritan is described as being on a journey. Probably this just has to do with the fact that a Samaritan didn’t live there, he was on a journey, not near home, just passing through. Whereas the two religious guys lived there, it’s the way they went to work perhaps.
Maybe there’s no significance there at all. Maybe it’s a condemnation that this actually is the physical neighbor of the two religious guys, whereas the Samaritan being a foreigner had less obligation to help but did anyway.
I imagine that’s the point. But the book I was reading said we are all on a journey. We’re all growing and changing as we go through life. It’s very easy for us to get caught up in our growth and journey, too busy being awesomer, to notice and take time to help someone else.
The religious guys didn’t want to get their hands dirty. The body was left half dead, perhaps it looked dead. This would risk being unclean according to the law. The letter of the law forbade them in their minds.
The Samaritan, who is already unclean, isn’t troubled by being unclean more.
So, several points. If your sense of righteousness prevents you from getting your hands dirty in loving people; you’re not very righteous.
The point of being righteous is to do right things. If you can’t fellowship with sinners for fear of risking your reputation, your outward appearance of religiosity, then you’re doing it wrong.
(There are biblical reasons to not fellowship with certain people, but make sure you get them right. If you’re going to be tempted into sinning then avoid them. If they are so-called brothers who are ruining the reputation of the church then back away. Get those reasons right. Paul clarified that if he said never to hang out with sinners you’d have to leave the world! This isn’t as black and white as people make it—never sit with sinners or always sit with sinners. I’ve heard people stress both points. Neither is right. There is a time and season for such things.)
If your journey, physical or spiritual, makes you superior to everyone around you, you’re journeying in the wrong direction! Being like Christ should not make you more isolated. If other people and their opinions make you want to stay home in your righteous bubble, you’re not growing spiritually.
Love is the whole point. Christ came into the world to save sinners. He didn’t float above us for all time; He came among us. Love. Love is a big deal in the Bible.
Spiritual growth always leads to being more loving. Always, no exceptions.
The Fruit of the Spirit begins with “love.” Love has to be there. It is THE PROOF that you are growing in Christ.
Unfortunately, human pride makes us think spiritual growth puts us above others. That’s self-righteousness, not Christlikeness.
Love people even if they aren’t your responsibility. Love people even if it means getting your hands dirty. Love people. If that is getting harder for you to actually do, then you’re not growing spiritually; you’re growing self-righteously.