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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Taking Advantage of the Good Samaritan


We've all heard the saying, "No good deed goes unpunished. It sounds true but it's not. Most good deeds, if not rewarded, have positive consequences or at least don't hurt the good deed doer. An unfortunate trend in charity is toward making sure the person in need "deserves" the help. We don't want to cast our pearls before swine, Jesus said.

But Jesus wasn't talking about doing charitable acts when he said that. He meant, if someone didn't want to hear you preach at them, you should shut up and move along. Don't waste your breath in other words.  We often get the meaning of that Scripture all wrong.

When Jesus told the parable of the good Samaritan, the lesson was not, "Do a background check before you help people."
The Good Samaritan didn't sneak back to the inn and peek through the window to see if the whole thing was a con and the innkeeper and the "injured" man were high-fiving and splitting up his money. Jesus did not tell the disciples to go back and make sure the injured man wasn't faking. 

Christ's lesson was that all men are your neighbors and we are under orders to love our neighbors and to treat them as we would be treated ourselves. I know that He says we should be as "wise as serpents and gentle as doves".  BUT (and this is a very big "but") that does not give us permission to be cynical about doing acts of kindness. Nowhere does God say, "Thou shalt not be taken advantage of," or "Thou shalt not do a kindness for someone who doesn't deserve it." We are to treat others the way we would wish to be treated, for who knows but that we may one day entertain angels unawares.

Jesus fed the 5000. He just fed them. He did not send the disciples out with application forms to determine which of the 5000 might not be worthy to receive food assistance. They were hungry. Jesus fed them - the deserving alongside the undeserving. No questions asked. When he cured the demoniac or healed the cripple, Jesus did not do an "intake" interview to determine whether or not their illnesses and injuries were "deserved" or not. He simply healed.  In like manner, we are counseled to, if asked to carry a burden for a mile, to carry it two.

Does that make us suckers. Hardly. We are soldiers in God's Army and the war we wage is against selfishness, greed, hatred and cruelty. We wage that war by example. We heal the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the naked and provide shelter for the homeless.

We cannot know the effect of our mercy and kindness on a person, even though the effect may not be immediate. We may never know the downstream effect of our Christian charity. We don't have to. God knows what it will be. That's why he places us in the way of acts of kindness which need doing. God plans the strategy. He gives the orders and it is He who is responsible for the results of the efforts of His soldiers. When Scripture tells us to obey, that's what it's talking about.

© 2017 by Tom

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