Parable of the Good Samaritan – Sermon Application #1
The parable of the good Samaritan presents us with an opportunity to reflect on our personal attitude towards victims. We live in a time where genuine compassion is often exploited for selfish gain. “Guilt-tripping” and appealing to man’s inherent sense of self-righteousness can be incredibly powerful tools for obtaining power and wealth. It is for this reason that countless thieves and con-men paint themselves as victims. Others have made fortunes for themselves from charitable donations that were intended to help others. With this going on all around us, we can be so fearful of being victimized ourselves that we begin to harden our hearts to the reality of true victims. We may have rationalized and justified ourselves, but how does the love of God dwell in one void of compassion for those in need (1 Jhn. 3:17)?
Application by way of self-examination:
What is our typical response to the person who appears to be in need? How have we responded to someone who claims that they have been abused, that they have been robbed, that they have lost everything? Is our first inclination to assume that they are not being straightforward—that they are being wicked (Job 22:5; 1 Sam. 25:10-11; Prov. 18:13)? Granted, the Bible teaches us not to be naïve about such things (Prov. 14:15, 22:3; Jas. 1:19), but are we using our “discernment” as an excuse for not carrying out due diligence and seeing how we might be able to help?
Application by way of exhortation:
If we are only concerned about avoiding becoming a victim ourselves, we will never take the risk of helping those in need (compare Matt. 27:22-24, Acts 3:13, and 4:27; also Eccles. 11:4; Prov. 22:13). What we need to do is forget about ourselves and focus on loving others (2 Tim. 2:10; Acts 20:24; 2 Cor. 5:14-15; Matt. 8:2-3, 10:39; Luke 14:26). This doesn’t negate the need for wise precautions (Mark 3:9), but in a fallen world where wholly eliminating risk eliminates love, not all risks are reckless (Rom. 16:4; Phil. 2:30; 2Cor. 11:21-33). Additionally, forgetting ourselves does not remove the obligation to use discernment, for kindness without discernment often does more harm than good (1 Tim. 5:11-13). In all things, may we avoid mistaking selfishness for discernment and prejudice for principle.
Application to the Christian mind:
Do you feel pained or even bitter when someone in need asks you for something? Does it bother you even when family members require your support? Do you begin murmuring and complaining about how the person in need ought to have made wiser decisions? Often the reason we are troubled by the needs of others is because we have more delight in receiving than in giving; but Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) As long as our thinking patterns are fleshly, we will assume that giving is losing, but the reality is the opposite. Where the fleshly mind goes into “avoidance mode” at the mention of needs, the spiritual mind knows that there is great blessing in being a blessing!