“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 10:36-37 (NLT)
Most of us know the story of the Good Samaritan. We've heard it many times. The lawyer whose questions prompted the story started the discussion with one question, "Who is my neighbor?" He was hoping to get off easy; he was hoping that since he was already good to the people he knew Jesus would tell him he had done well. But God's definition of 'neighbor' and those whom you show mercy to requires more of us than we are often willing to give.
Let's make this real. I'm going to throw out some scenarios and I want you to put yourself in the role of the Samaritan. Remember, he helped the Jewish man who had been attacked - even though they were enemies. He inconvenienced himself to provide what was best for his enemy.
Let's start with the stories in the news where a policeman has shot a black man or visa versus, a black man has killed a policeman. You are the family member of the deceased. How will you treat the person who took your loved one's life?
You are living in Paris and were there when ISIS attacked the city and your family member was killed. You come face to face with the person who orchestrated the attack. How do you treat them?
How about some scenarios that are closer to home? Someone has hurt your spouse, your child, your parents. How will you follow up?
Someone you know in business deliberately causes you to lose a large sum of money and you nearly lose everything. You come face-to-face with them at a conference. What do you do?
Some of these are extreme situations and for a lot of us we will never have to face these horrific situations. But, as the world continually becomes more and more distant from God's ideal for us, the reality that we will be faced with our 'enemy' becomes more and more real. Look at your life. Is there someone that needs your forgiveness? Is there someone you should show mercy to? Is there someone who needs your best? This is what God is calling us to do. The idea is just as radical now as it was when Jesus introduced it. We can't do it alone. We need him in our lives to pull it off.
If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Matthew 5:46-47 (NLT)