My Musings – “The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But…the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
What indeed? I’ve done it. Maybe you have too. The stranded motorist all alone. Well, who doesn’t have a cell phone these days? They can call someone. It’s a busy road, someone is bound to stop. I’m running late, I can’t be bothered this time, I’ll get the next one. What if it’s a ruse, I could be putting myself in real danger. On the other hand, what if they don’t have a cell phone? Would it be a bother even if I did have the time? What if it’s a not too well-traveled road? What if I don’t stop to help, they could be left in real danger?
How about the shabbily-dressed person on the corner with the crudely lettered sign “any amount will help?” They’re probably running a scam. They’ll probably use it for drugs or alcohol. Why don’t they go out and look for a job? What if they’ve tried it all and just want to feed their family just for this day?
Without getting too political (too late), what about the refugee seeking a better life? They’re probably here for free benefits. They just want to come here and change things to the same as what they left. What if they belong to some sleeper cell? Why don’t they just come here legally? What if they really did flee a life and death situation?
Maybe some of the concerns and objections above are legitimate. After all, there will always be those looking to take advantage. Many of the situations we face will be tough calls. But do we really want to turn a “blind-eye” to those who might be truly in need because we are afraid of what might happen to us or skeptical that their needs are genuine? While we need to be wise and wary, at the end of the day we are responsible for our hearts and actions and not the other person’s motives.
My Advice – We all know that immediately after the above question “and who is my neighbor?” Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan. Isn’t it interesting that the two in the parable most likely to lend a hand did not (maybe they used some of the above rationalizations), and the one least likely to care at all (the “hated” Samaritan) cared enough to act. “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:36-37, NIV 1984).
Maybe the ones we find in apparently needy situations are our “hated” Samaritans. Should it make a difference? The point of the parable is no. They are just as much our neighbor as the ones we visit with over the white picket fence.