The term “Good Samaritan” today I’d say refers to a person who helps others in a random act of kindness. It originated from the Parable of the Good Samaritan, a story that is very familiar to Christians.
In the story, a Jew was robbed and left to die by his assailants. Two highly respected men, the Priest and the levite passed by him but decided to walk away. Then a Samaritan came along. Unlike the other two, he tended to the man’s wounds and brought him to an inn. Then he gave money to the innkeeper saying, “Look after him and when I return, I will reimburse you for any expense you may have incurred”.
What makes this story very compelling is that Jews and Samaritans are historical enemies. Jews don’t talk to Samaritans as they consider them renegades. And this enmity is returned by the Samaritans.
But what has a thousand-year-old story got to do with us? Like any parable, Jesus used this story to teach us lessons about life and about God. Below are some of the most valuable lessons culled from the Good Samaritan parable that relates to our daily life today:
Help When You’ve Seen Someone In Need Of Help:
Having the intent to help is good but acting on that intent is much better. The Samaritan’s intent didn’t save the wounded man from death. It was his actions that ultimately saved the man’s life. He didn’t walk away just like the two men before him did. He decided to do something.
In this our generation, that half-dead man’s photos would end up in social media before he even gets to the hospital. Everybody would take pictures but very few would actually dare or reach out to help. We’ll feel sorry and sympathize with the half dead man but not get involved in helping. Now, are we the good Samaritan or are we the men who walked away?
Race Shouldn’t Be A Barrier:
Xenophobia and racial differences have been a great divider among nations. Since the ancient times to the present, we tend to distrust others who don’t look like us or sound like us or speak our language.
But the Samaritan didn’t care about race. He showed us that racism has no place in charity. And that we should help others regardless of where they come from or what they believe in. After all, we are all created equal: no one race is superior nor inferior from the other. And at the end of the day, we all belong to the same race, Humanity.
Be Kind To Even Your Haters:
Have you ever wished ill of your enemy? Admit it or not, at some point in our lives we’ve all done that. Sometimes, the temptation to take revenge on our enemies is just so strong and difficult to resist.
In the story, the injured traveler must have probably hated the Samaritan. The Samaritan probably also knew that the dying man may still hate him after he recovers. Yet, he helped him.
The civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. famously said:
On the parable of the Good Samaritan
“I imagine that the first question the priest and Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But by the very nature of his concern, the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”
Consider putting yourself in the Samaritan’s shoes. What would you have thought of first? The fact that he’s from a different race or that he is dying and needs help?
Help At Every Point In Time Without Expecting Anything In Return:
Be honest with yourself, would you help someone if you know they will never be able to return the favor? If you answered yes, then good for you. But most of us wouldn’t.
Most of us help because we are expecting a reward of some sort. We return a lost wallet and expect the owner to reward us. We help our friends because we assume that they’ll also help us when we are in need.
But, in doing so, we create a world where we only help “our kind” and those who are “one of us”. There is not much incentive to helping strangers if we know we can get nothing from them.
The Samaritan knew that the wounded man may never help him in return. Yet, he pressed on because he knew that was the right thing to do.
Being a Good Samaritan in its modern-day context is hard. Most of the time, we are so wrapped up in our own lives that we forget about our less fortunate brethren. But you can still fix that.
I’d implore each and everyone of us to imbibe the character of the good Samaritan, by so doing we’d make the world a much better place.