What Good Looks Like

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came to where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him (Luke 10:33).

Samaritans were a people the Jewish faithful had despised for generations.  So it is ironic that their name has become forever paired with good.”

That has happened because, with this story of the Samaritan, Jesus shows us what good looks like.

The Samaritan saw the nearly-beaten-to-death man and took pity on him.

The Samaritan went to him, letting himself get stained with the man's blood.

The Samaritan involved himself in the man's care.

This story was one of Jesus' genius vehicles for getting His point across. In this case His point was Love your neighbor as yourself.  So let's consider why He would choose a Samaritan for the central character.

Surely inserting a Samaritan—in their eyes a detested heretical outcast—would shock His listeners. So there's that.

But it could also have to do with a Samaritan being acquainted with being dismissed, rejected.  And maybe, by virtue of that, a Samaritan could have learned compassion for others similarly treated. He would then have had empathy—learned the hard way—for this suffering man. The two in positions of power who “passed by on the other side,” indifferent or too full of excuses, didn't have that.

In a women's Bible study years ago I asked, “Have you ever been excluded?” Many said they had.  We all belonged to churches where women were regularly excluded because of being women. They also shared stories of exclusion both unique to themselves and common to us all.

Their answers saddened me. They sadden me still. But now I am also thinking that on the way to good, being excluded may be a helpful step.

Experiencing rejection, exclusion or dismissal—whether slight or profound—presents options: resentment or forgiveness; blaming or seeking understanding; lashing out or taking constructive action.

God can also use it to do a work in us, prompting us to consider whether we ourselves reject or accept, exclude or include, or connect with or dismiss others.

This requires deep examination into why we would treat any fellow humans as if they didn't matter.  If we see we are falling into prioritizing differences such as skin color, ethnicity, or gender—things over which no one has control—we need to stop; then accept, include, and connect the way God does.

Briefly re-live a time you experienced rejection, exclusion, or dismissal. Now, come as the Samaritan came to the hurting man and minister to yourself.

Going forward, let's reach out to others who need someone who has learned—the hard way—to be good to others.

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