Tim Owens, pastor
Fellowship Baptist Church, Chickamauga
I heard a story earlier in the week about a person in a local coffee shop who was excited someone had paid for their order and then paid for the order of the customer behind them. This went on for over an hour. Customer after customer was informed that the person in front of them had paid for their order and in the spirit of “paying it forward” many of them did the same.
It was heralded as a “random act of kindness,” but think about it. How hard is it to pay for the cup of coffee for the person in the car behind you? Now, don’t take me wrong, I would have enjoyed it. But it is really easy to be nice to someone who is being nice to you. It is easy to repay someone’s kindness, but it is much more difficult to love as God says we are to love, unconditionally, even when it is not convenient.
Can’t love God without loving others – Luke 10:25-28
In the beginning of this passage of scripture we see an expert in the Old Testament Law stand up to ask Jesus a question concerning the Law. It is interesting to note this was most probably a Pharisee, commonly called a scribe. The scripture seems to imply this Pharisee was not really interested in the answer to his question, but wanted to put Jesus on the spot and test Him.
It was a challenge. He asked Jesus, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus answered him by asking a question of His own, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” Jesus turned the situation around and let the Pharisee know that what he was asking was to be found in the scriptures.
I can almost imagine a smile come upon Jesus’ face as the Pharisee gave Him his answer. The Pharisee quoted from the Sh’ma Yisrael, a daily prayer a devout Jew would have memorized and prayed twice daily. The second part of the Pharisee’s answer came from Leviticus 19:18.
Jesus told him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” Jesus was leading him to understand that if you love God and each other you will be obedient to all of God’s commands. Jesus wanted this expert in the Law to realize that he had not, nor could he, keep all of God’s commandments.
To love God you have to love those around you. How often do we as Christians avoid different people because they are not like us or we just don’t think we have the time?
Love requires an action! – Luke 10:29-32
Jesus’ answer caused the Pharisee to stop and think. In his mind, he was thinking he had fulfilled the Law by loving God with everything he had. But it is a complete impossibility for a sinful human to love God perfectly.
The Pharisee also thought it was possible to love God perfectly without loving others. He was looking for an out, so he asked Jesus a follow-up question, “And who is my neighbor?” In other words, let’s get technical here. Who do you consider my neighbor to be? The Pharisee wanted to justify his actions.
Then Jesus tells what we commonly call “the parable of the good Samaritan.” Jesus does not let him off the hook. Instead He teaches him that we fail to love when we do not take action.
The first two people who came upon the Jewish man who had been robbed and beaten were from the religious community. These were the very people who should have shown love and compassion. The priests were the very ones in charge of the Temple. The Levites were the ones who assisted the priests in their charged duties. But they both went out of their way to avoid the injured man.
The two religious leaders wanted nothing to do with him. Did they love the man? Did they show love? No! It is not enough to say that we love our neighbors. Love requires action.
We are commanded to love – Luke 10:33-37
Jesus put a twist on the story. Along came a Samaritan. Samaritans were a group of people who hated the Jews and the Jews hated them. But the Samaritan showed love. He cleaned his wounds with supplies brought for himself; he took him to an inn and stayed with him to make sure he would be okay. He took time out of his trip and took care of a stranger who could do nothing in return. The Samaritan then paid the innkeeper a sum of money most scholars believe would have paid for the stranger to stay and be cared for several weeks.
Jesus wanted the Pharisee to understand that to love means to help someone out of our own resources and abilities with no thought of getting anything in return. Regardless of the circumstances we are to love. Jesus could have condemned the Pharisee for his lack of love but instead tells him, “Go and do likewise.”
Jesus is telling him, if you truly love God you will show this kind of love to those around you. Jesus is telling us the same thing today!
Live it out
- How do you show God’s love in a tangible way to others?
- Are you like the Pharisee and only show love when it is convenient?
- I challenge you, get out of your comfort zone, and show love to someone that cannot possibly repay it to you.