“3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.”
The parable of the good Samaritan goes like this: A man was traveling between Jerusalem and Jericho when he was attacked by robbers and left to die on the side of the road. A priest walked by but ignored the man. Then a Levite walked by and also ignored him. Then a Samaritan walked by and, moved with compassion, stopped and cared for the man (Luke 10:25-37).
This parable illustrates the way people govern their lives. We will order our lives by the Iron Rule, the Silver Rule or the Golden Rule.
Common criminals, cutthroat businessmen and corrupt dictators live by the Iron Rule, which says, “Might makes right.” The robbers in the parable lived by this rule. They felt no remorse for their actions. They saw weakness and vulnerability and took advantage of their victim. They showed no emotion as they trampled the lone man underfoot for their gain.
The Silver Rule states, “It’s not my problem; therefore, it’s not my responsibility.” The priest and the Levite lived by this rule. They didn’t do the wounded man any harm, but neither did they do him any good. They were neutral. His plight wasn’t their problem, and so, in their minds, it wasn’t their responsibility.
The Golden Rule states, “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). It was taught by Jesus and was the rule that the Samaritan governed his life by. When he saw the victimized man, he pictured himself in that man’s shoes. He knew what had to be done and he did it immediately. He gave aid, put him on his own animal and provided him safety. He watched over him through the night. The next morning, when he had to go on his way, he made sure that the man would be provided for and personally gave two days’ wages for his care.
Friend, you will undoubtedly be tested this week to see if you are compassionate. The real question is who you will emulate: the common criminals, the religious hypocrites or the good Samaritan. I want to encourage you to go for the gold and not settle for the silver.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:7-9).
n The Rev. Glen Morden is pastor of Patterson Covenant Church. Sermon Notes is a column by local religious leaders.