Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
One day an expert on Moses’ laws came to test Jesus’ orthodoxy by asking him this question: “Teacher, what does a man need to do to live forever in heaven?”
Jesus replied, “What does Moses’ law say about it?”
“It says,” he replied, “that you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind. And you must love your neighbor just as much as you love yourself.”
“Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you shall live!”
The man wanted to justify his lack of love for some kinds of people, so he asked, “Which neighbors?”
Jesus replied with an illustration: “A Jew going on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes and money, and beat him up and left him lying half dead beside the road.
“By chance a Jewish priest came along; and when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Jewish Temple-assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but then went on.
“But a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw him, he felt deep pity. Kneeling beside him the Samaritan soothed his wounds with medicine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his donkey and walked along beside him till they came to an inn, where he nursed him through the night. The next day he handed the innkeeper two twenty-dollar bills and told him to take care of the man. ‘If his bill runs higher than that,’ he said, ‘I’ll pay the difference the next time I am here.’
“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the bandits’ victim?”
The man replied, “The one who showed him some pity.”
Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
Luke 10: 25-37 (TLB)
We could stop there for today—just leave today at the lesson Jesus taught above in the familiar story of the Good Samaritan. We could stop there as the lesson for each of us on how we should use the platforms of influence and opportunity we have.
But I heard another story the other day I also wanted to share with you this morning. A story of a man who I don’t know whether he read Jesus’ lesson in Luke 10 or not, but lived it out to the very end.
It was a cold night in February, 1980 in New York City, when twenty-seven-year-old Paul Keating was walking home in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village are when he saw two armed muggers robbing a college student.
Keating, a gentle, much-admired photographer for Time magazine, had every reason to avoid trouble. He didn’t know the student. No one knew that he would have seen the crime. He was outnumbered.
He had nothing to gain and much to lose by taking the risk, and yet he jumped on the muggers. The student escaped and ran to a nearby deli to call for help. Moments later, two shots cracked in the night air, and the muggers fled. Paul Keating was found lying dead on the pavement.
The City of New York posthumously awarded him a medal of heroism. Here is a portion of what Mayor Edward Koch said at the ceremony—“Nobody was watching Paul Keating on the street that night. Nobody made him step forward in the time of crisis. He did it because of who he was.”
What we do in life is important. Our jobs, our careers, our callings. But only because they provide us with an opportunity to show who we are. Because who we are, is much more important—than what we do and what records we set, money we make, awards we get, accolades we achieve or image we have.
Every day moments present themselves to give us a chance to show who we are—disappointment, tragedy, fear-filled moments, moments when we are confronted with need, as well as defeats.
It’s all a part of the platform we have been given. How we respond, how we react tells us who we are inside—and how far we need to go yet to be more like the Good Samaritan Christ depicts in the story, in the way we treat people, speak to and about people, help people.
Martin Luther King, Jr. summarized the story of the Good Samaritan well when he said:
“The first question that the priest asked, the first question that the Levite (Temple assistant) asked was—
‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’
But the Good Samaritan reversed the question and thought to himself—
‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’”
Forty-eight years ago, God presented my bride, Lynda, with a similar choice, to marry a nice young, but not-so-steady and a bit confused, young man; a bit insecure who brought a bunch of baggage from a difficult childhood with him, who had heard about God but didn’t know Him. He was lying pretty wounded emotionally and spiritually along the side of the road, so to speak. He had been in survivor mode for years, taking care of himself, and was not at all sure about his tomorrows.
The choice which God brought to her—was to marry that young man or not.
She said “yes,” and in that moment, and for years thereafter, God used her to save that young man’s life and eventually turn him to the God who loved him all the while. And this Wednesday, June 3, 2015, Lynda and I will celebrate forty-eight years together in our marriage.
Our platforms—and what we do with them defines who we are, and really can make a difference in the lives of those around us, forever.
In His Name—Scott
Copyright 2015. Scott L. Whitaker. All rights reserved.