January 4th - In my family this is around the time that we begin putting away all of our Christmas decorations and we start counting down the days until next Christmas (it’s 354 in case you’re curious). And while Christmas might be over, the season of giving doesn’t have to be. Giving is meant to be something that we actively engage in all year. And one of the greatest gifts we can give a person is the act of serving them. Its doesn’t require a special occasion, and it typically doesn’t cost any money. And the best part? Its one of the easiest ways to display God’s love to someone.
The Good Samaritan
One of my favorite biblical passages on serving is the story of The Good Samaritan. Its a parable that Jesus told in the book of Luke to teach us what it looks like to truly love our neighbors as ourselves. (See Luke 10:27).
In this parable Jesus tells us the story of a man who was attacked by robbers while traveling and was left to die on the side of the road. Several people walk past the man, seeing him suffering, but do not stop to help him. Finally, a Samaritan man sees him and is filled with compassion for him. He bandages the man's wounds, using his own supply of oil and wine. He props the man up on his donkey and carries him to the nearest inn. He pays for the man to have a room and he asks the inn keeper to look after him. He tells the innkeeper that he will pay for any extra expenses that might be incurred and that he will come back in a few days to check on him. (Paraphrased from Luke 10:30-35).Two things stand out to me in this passage: The samaritan man’s willingness to be interrupted and his willingness to go beyond what was required of him.
If you’re like me, you’re probably pretty busy most days, especially during the holidays. Even though we said we would spend the extra time resting and recharging, somehow we still managed to fill up each day with errands and events. And with a new semester starting soon (is it really tomorrow???) I know those days will soon be filled up as well. So the question is, are we too busy to be interrupted? Dallas Willard, an author and seminary professor is know for this quote: “You need to ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” Why? Because it distracts us from the needs around us and it distracts us from voice of God.
We see needs all around us every single day. The homeless woman on the street corner, the friend who has been feeling lonely, the family member going through a rough season… the list is endless. And just like the Samaritan man, we have the choice as to whether or not we’re going to stop our busy lives and extend a hand. Sometimes it doesn’t take much - a few minutes to pray with them, an offer to grab coffee together, listening ears and encouragement - but first, you have to be willing to be interrupted.
Go Beyond What is Required of You
Now that you’ve stepped aside from your busy life to help the one in need, will you do the bare minimum or will you go beyond what is required of you like the Samaritan man did? He didn’t have to use his own supply of oil and wine. He didn’t have to take the man to a local inn and pay for him to have a room. He didn’t have to come back a few days later to check on him. But he did; and he did it out of a place of compassion. This is the part of serving where we get to display the heart of our loving father to a world in desperate need of love and hope. Truly selfless serving may require you to make sacrifices and to go beyond your comfort zone, but in the end the sacrifice is always worth it. Seeing their spirit brighten as you stand by their side to help them will ultimately bring joy to your own heart. For it is always better to give than to receive.
Father we pray for eyes to see the needs all around us everyday. We pray that our hearts would be filled with compassion in the same way that the Samaritan man’s heart was. We pray for the humility to pull away from our busy lives and be interrupted by the needs of others. We pray for the grace to go beyond what is required of us so that we may truly display your selflessness and love to a broken people. We pray for wisdom to know how to best serve the people before us and for the courage to share your love with them. Amen.
Author | Devon Radford