How Can I Love My Neighbor?
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Feb. 26, 2012
*Some years ago, I was blessed to be part of a mission team in South Asia. It was about nine months after a major earthquake in the region. Over 100,000 people were killed, many more were injured, and countless homes were destroyed. We were there to help with disaster relief. For example, we gave much needed blankets to the families in one of the isolated villages. We also shared the gospel by giving our testimonies.
*I saw the story of the Good Samaritan come to life that summer in South Asia. A young mother had been told by a village doctor that she had tuberculosis. He was not trained, and she was afraid to take the medicine he gave her. That’s why she asked our team leader, Mike, if he could get an appointment for her at one of the two Christian hospitals in that part of the world.
*Mike called the doctor and set up the appointment. Then he wrote a letter for the lady to take with her. But he had terrible penmanship, and noticing that I could print, he asked me to make a legible copy.
*This lady was very poor, and told Mike that she was afraid she didn’t have the money to pay for her care. Mike explained this in the letter. He also sent some money with her, and closed by saying: "If this is not enough to cover the cost, I will pay you when I see you again." I thought, "Wow! -- This is just like the story of the Good Samaritan."
*The amazing truth is that WE can be the people God uses to help hurting people! -- You can be a Good Samaritan for someone, and you don’t have to go to Asia to do it. You can be a Good Samaritan right here in Caldwell Parish. You can be a Good Samaritan at work or school, and maybe in your own home.
*You can be like the good neighbor we see in this story. Let’s look into the Word of God and see how.
1. First: You must settle the question of your salvation.
*That’s why Jesus told this story in the first place. It was a question of eternal life. We see this starting in vs. 25, when the lawyer asked Jesus, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?"
*Owen Bourgaize tells us that the lawyer’s question reveals how much he misunderstood about eternal life: "What shall I DO to INHERIT eternal life?" Didn’t he see a contradiction in his own words? An inheritance is not something you achieve by some action you’ve done. And inheritance is something you receive because you have a relationship with someone.
*The lawyer misunderstood how eternal life is received. Like so many other people, often well-meaning and decent-living people, this man thought of eternal life as something earned by your good works, rather than freely given by God’s grace. (1)
*That’s what Jesus was trying to get the lawyer to see in vs. 26, where the Lord asked: "What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?" In vs. 27, the lawyer answered: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." And in vs. 28, Jesus replied: "You have answered rightly; do this and you will live." Uh oh. -- The lawyer knew he had a problem. So in vs. 29, wanting to justify himself, he said to Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?"
*Yeah -- He had a problem. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." He had a problem, and so do we.
*You may say, "I DO love God with all my heart." Really? -- Have you done it 24/7 for even the last week? How about the last decade? How about your whole life? There is no way you can ever earn eternal life, because all of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
*What we all deserve is a place in hell, because the wages of sin is death. So eternal life is never about self-justification. It’s about the Savior, Jesus Christ! Eternal life comes from the Son of God and the sacrifice He made when He died on the cross for our sins.
*And eternal life comes through simple, childlike faith in Jesus Christ. That’s what the Lord was talking about back up in vs. 21, when He said, "I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes." When we turn to God and put our trust in Him, our sins are forgiven! We are born again into the family of God, and eternal life becomes our inheritance.
*This is the starting point for truly loving our neighbor, so King Duncan asks: "Why have Christians been historically so charitable and caring? -- It is because once WE were lying beside the road broken and bleeding. And nail-scarred hands reached down to help us in our need." (2)
*Before you can begin to really love your neighbor, you must settle the question of salvation.
2. Then strive to overcome your selfishness.
*You will never love your neighbor until you overcome your own selfishness. So in answer to the Lawyer’s question, the Lord highlighted the selfish life. Listen to the Lord Jesus in vs. 29-32:
29. But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?''
30. Then Jesus answered and said: "A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
31. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.
*Selfishness: We can certainly see it in the robbers who attacked the man on the road to Jericho. They couldn’t have cared less about that poor man. On top of robbing him, they stripped him, beat him and left him half dead.
*James Merritt tells us that the 17-mile-long Jericho road was a narrow road bordered by steep cliffs on one side, and barren hills on the other. The Jericho road was so dangerous in those days it was called "the way of blood." Scholars estimate that there were at least 12,000 thieves in the wilderness around Jerusalem. They roamed the countryside like packs of wild dogs attacking innocent victims.
*Those thieves lived with a completely selfish point of view. But Jesus wants us to see that the religious people in His story were also selfish. The priest and the Levite were part of the religious establishment. If anybody would have stopped to help that poor beaten man, you would have thought it would have been them. But they were selfish too. (3)
*It’s a good thing we’re Christians, so we don’t have to worry about being selfish. -- Just kidding.
*James Merritt told of a little boy who heard about the Good Samaritan in Sunday School one day. Mom asked him about it on the way home. And her little boy replied, "It was about two preachers who saw a man down in a ditch. But they didn't stop, because he had already been robbed." (3)
*The truth is that we Christians can be just as selfish as anybody else. And sometimes we are. We are all born with a selfish streak. It’s a big part of our sin nature, and we have to overcome your selfishness.
*How can I love my neighbor? -- We must strive to overcome our selfishness.
3. But also follow the example of Christ’s compassion.
*We need the same kind of Christ-like compassion we see in 33-35. There Jesus said:
33. A certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
34. and went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’”
*Oh how Jesus shocked that crowd when He put this love into a despised Samaritan. And it is amazing how much this Good Samaritan is like the Lord.
*In vs. 33, he had compassion on the wounded man. In vs. 34, he went to him, and took care of his wounds. The Good Samaritan poured in oil and wine. Wine is the Biblical symbol of the blood of Jesus Christ, which heals our spiritual wounds. Oil is a symbol for the Holy Spirit who gives us eternal life. In vs. 34, the Good Samaritan also put the wounded man on his donkey. This reminds us that when we are too weak to go on, Jesus will carry us. Then, like in vs. 34, Jesus gives us a place to stay. He takes care of us. And like the Good Samaritan in vs. 35, Jesus provided for all of our needs when He had to go away. And He is coming again!
*Surely the Good Samaritan in this story was modeled on the Lord, Himself. And the Lord wants us to follow His example. You might ask: "What can I do to help hurting people? I don’t have the medicine they need. I don’t know how to bind up wounds." Let me tell you that God will make a way for you to help.
*And please realize that the most important thing in these verses was not the oil and wine. It wasn’t the donkey that carried the wounded man. The most important thing in this story was the compassion the Samaritan had for the wounded stranger. It’s the same kind of compassion that Jesus has for us.
*This word "compassion" is found 12 times in the New Testament, and most of the time it is talking about the Lord’s compassion for us. For example, Matthew 9:36 says, "When He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd."
*Ask God to give you the kind of compassion that He has for us. That’s the most important thing we need to help people. And I know that the Lord will answer your prayers.
*You can be the one God uses to help other people. Just follow the example of Christ’s compassion.
4. And one of the most important ways to do that is by bringing hurting people to the healing place.
*That’s what the Good Samaritan did in vs. 34: "He set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him." The Good Samaritan brought the wounded man to a healing place.
*This reminds us that the church is not a trophy case for God’s super stars. The church is a hospital where hurting people can come to help get whole. And one of the most important things you can do for hurting people is to bring them here. Invite them to come! -- It’s always a good idea to invite people to church.
*Harold Lentz told about a study of new church members. And the vast majority of them were moved to join a church because someone invited them. (4)
*A personal invitation is one of the most effective tools of evangelism. And we will talk more about this in a couple of weeks, Lord willing. But God will give you opportunities to help hurting people. And one of the best things you can ever do for them is bring them here.
*How can I love my neighbor? -- Bring hurting people to the healing place.
5. And be willing to pay the price
*That’s what the Good Samaritan did in vs. 35: "On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.'"
*A denarius was the main silver coin of the Roman Empire, roughly equal to the pay for a day’s labor. But the key part of this verse is what the Good Samaritan was willing to do. As he told the innkeeper, "Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you." He was willing to pay the price. And because of the cross of Jesus Christ, Christians, we should be willing to pay the price.
*In vs. 36&37, when the Lord finished His story, He asked the lawyer:
36. "So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?"
37. And he said, "He who showed mercy on him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."
*The Lord is speaking to us today just as surely as He spoke to that lawyer: "Go and do likewise."
*Stephen Olford was one of the best known preachers of the last 50 years. He grew up the son of a missionary to Africa. But Stephen did not want to go through the trials and tribulations of a missionary.
*After being mistreated by some Christians in England, Stephen rebelled against God. He studied to become an engineer, developed a new kind of carburetor, and got into racing motorcycles.
*Then, Stephen was gravely injured in a motorcycle accident and given just two weeks to live. Still rebelling against God, Stephen refused to see the pastors who visited him. But then he received a letter from his dad. This letter had been mailed long before the accident. But the Lord got it to Stephen at just the right time. And the letter included this message from Stephen’s father: "Only one life, 'twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last."
*God used that message to touch Stephen’s heart and he prayed: "Lord, if You will heal my body, I will serve You anywhere, anytime, and at any cost!" (5)
*God did heal Stephen! And his life was greatly used by God, because he was willing to pay the price.
*Christians: The amazing truth is that WE can be the people God uses to help hurting people! You can be a Good Samaritan right here in Caldwell Parish. You can be a Good Samaritan at work or school, and maybe in your own home.
*Now is the time. "Only one life, ‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last." Make up your mind today that you will be the one that God uses.
*And if you have never trusted in the Lord. You may not realize it, but spiritually speaking, you are helpless, like that wounded man lying in the road. But Jesus comes along. And He will not pass you by!
*Jesus Christ wants to be your Good Samaritan. Others could be kind to us. But only Jesus Christ could go to the cross for us. And He did! Now the Risen Savior offers forgiveness and eternal life to everyone who will trust in Him.
*Could you imagine that wounded half-dead man in the story pushing the Good Samaritan away? Don’t you know that he called out to the Good Samaritan? Don’t you know that he reached up to him? He received the Samaritan’s kindness and help.
*That desperate, wounded man trusted the Samaritan as his earthly savior. How much more foolish it would be for us to push Jesus Christ away after all He has done for us. All of us should call out to Him. Reach up to Him. Receive his kindness and help.
*Trust in Jesus and receive Him as Savior and Lord. Do that right now, and then join us in being Good Samaritans to our world.
(1) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "The Good Samaritan" by Owen Bourgaize - Luke 10:25-37
(2) ChristianGlobe.com sermon "Do This And Live!" by King Duncan - Luke 10:25-37
(3) Adapted from Sermons.com sermon "Like a Good Neighbor, Jesus Is There" by James Merritt - Luke 10:25-37
(4)Harold H. Lentz, "Preaching the Miracles" - CSS Publishing, Lima, Ohio, 1999 - Source: Sermonillustrations.com - 09072003
(5) SermonCentral illustration contributed by Mark Hensley