Friday, February 25, 2011

A Timely Story

I don't know about you, but when I look at all what is going on in the world, it is tough not to get angry. There are rulers killing their citizens without remorse. There are those who plot the genocide of whole nations. And still other governments keep their citizens on the verge of starvation while they live in luxury. On the home front things are not much better. It seems we have a nation that is intent on committing financial suicide, not to mention the forces who are outraged with the mere suggestion that, as a budget consideration, taxpayer money should no longer be used to pay for the murder of babies. Yep, keeping your temper in check seems to be getting increasingly more difficult to do, and yet we have Jesus command to love your enemies!

One place we can read about this kind of love is in Luke 10

Luke 10:25-29 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? 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. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

Here we have two great commands. Love God, and love your neighbor, In fact, elsewhere in the New Testament, Jesus calls these two the greatest commandments. In the parable that follows, we not only learn how to answer that question of who is my neighbor, but a little more about what love consists of.

Luke 10:30-37 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. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 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. 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. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

To better understand the depth of this story, one needs to know a little about the relationship between the Jews and the Samaritans. You see, the Samaritans were descendants of those tribes of Israel who were on the wrong side of the divided kingdom. And not only did they side with the wicked kings of Israel, they intermarried with the local population who God had specifically commanded them NOT to marry. By the time of the New Testament, Samaritans were despised and looked down upon by the Jews to such an extent that the Samaritan woman at the well was shocked that Jesus would even speak to her.

With that in mind, the story of the Samaritan who acted out of love, and acted as a neighbor to someone who probably hated him just for who his ancestors were, should provide an example for us as to who we should love as our neighbor. In other words we should even love someone who hates us.

So what else can we learn from this? Real love, as shown in this parable, is revealed in actions more so than words. Love, as it is shown to us here, is very closely related to what we commonly call charity because those actions are for the benefit of someone who cannot repay us. In that respect it is the same type of love shown to us by Jesus Christ. He died paying the penalty for our sins, and he showed that love to us, who have no possibility of repaying him.

John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Christ showed what the Bible calls the greatest possible love when he laid down his life for us. And he did that when we were repulsive sinners. Jesus Christ is the one we are to look to as an example of how to love others. He is the standard, and it seems a standard that is impossible to live up to. And of course it is impossible, at least if a man relies on himself. But with God, all things are possible. So how is it that we can show others the kind of love that God has shown us? It begins when you repent of your sins and put your faith in Jesus Christ.


Dennis said...

Great post! Thanks.

Dan said...

Lee, Romans 5:8 has always blown my mind and will continue too. While we were and will continue to blow it, Christ died for us knowing that we would still blow it. That's Love..A love that provokes us to a deeper and more intament relationship with Him.

Great Post BTW!

St. Lee said...

Thanks Dan!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for more boldness in saying what needs to be said!