Love is hard work. Motivated by emotions alone, love will be an erratic experience.
In Luke 10:25-37, we are introduced to a man described as a lawyer. In context, the title lawyer is also translated as scribe, which refers to an expert in Mosaic law.
The law of Moses guided Jewish life, so these experts were important and influential people.
This lawyer asks Jesus, “what must I do to inherit eternal life.” This was an important question and one that was discussed frequently in Jesus’ day.
Those within earshot would have stopped talking and turned their attention to Rabbi Jesus to hear what He had to say. Does it surprise you that Jesus answers by redirecting the man back to the law? This reveals a critical truth about the salvation process.
Jesus wasn’t inferring that the law can save us, but that the law shows us that we need to be saved. Romans 3:20explains how the law is our judge, not our savior.
The law of God is the standard of how people are to live. Consequently, it also reveals that we are imperfect and can’t live up to the law’s perfect standard.
For example, how do you know that you’re driving too fast? One way is by the red light in your rearview mirror.
But let’s say there are no police officers on the roadways, and you’re traveling the same hi-speed but without the red lights. Are you still breaking the law? Yes.
The posted speed limits are a reminder of how fast you are legally allowed to drive. You’re breaking the law, even if you are not pulled over. Likewise, the ten commandments remind us we need forgiveness.
To answer Jesus’ question, the lawyer quotes Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.”
Heart, soul, strength, and mind made up the totality of a person. This means that every part of us is to be under the influence of love.
The Totality of Love
In Jewish thought, the heart was the center of human life. It was the seat of your passions and your impulses.
Your soul is the immaterial part of a man or woman. It’s often understood as our emotions.
This is interpreted as our health or our physical strength. We are to use our strength to love God, not giving Him the leftovers but our best.
The lawyer’s fourth statement strayed slightly from Deuteronomy 6:5, as he added mind. Maybe he wanted to demonstrate that he was going above and beyond what Deuteronomy 6:5 commanded.
The mind represented the center of thoughts and intellect. To love God with our mind is to take every thought captive and make it submissive to the Word of God.
Jesus commended the man on his answer, but the scribe was not finished. Confident that he loved his neighbor correctly, he asks Jesus, “who is my neighbor?” Jewish thought had various opinions on whom your neighbor was, but that’s when Jesus silences the crowds with a real-world example.
He explains how a man is leaving Jerusalem and headed to Jericho but fell victim to robbers who beat him and left him for dead. Leaving Jerusalem insinuates that he is a godly Jewish man.
Then we learn, “by chance,” a priest was walking down that same road. The phrase “by chance” means coincidence and is defined as unplanned or unscripted.
This priest did not leave Jericho on his way to Jerusalem in hopes of finding someone destitute or in need. It was just a coincidence.
Coincidences are often appointments set by God.
A priest, like a Christian, was the most likely person to show compassion. But what did he do? He crossed the street so as not to be burdened or inconvenienced by the man.
Then a Levite traveling the same path came upon him. A Levite was an assistant to the priest in the temple. Yet just like the priest, he crossed the street to avoid the man altogether.
Here’s where Jesus’ story takes an unexpected turn, “But a Samaritan…”. This would have caused indignation from His audience.
Samaritans and Jews were equally unkind towards each other. Their disdain for one another goes back many generations.
So as the Samaritan entered the scene, the audience immediately thought, strike three, this guy has no hope. Yet, the exact opposite happened. As the Priest and Levite crossed the street to avoid this man, the Samaritan “went to him” and began first-aid.
Jesus isn’t teaching that we are to do everything for everyone or to solve the problems of the world, but he identified that our neighbor is the one in need near us and with whom we have the ability to help.
To deny love from acting is to silence the nature of God that is transforming us from darkness into light.
Your neighbor is not just someone who;
- Lives by you
- Likes you
- Looks like you
- Thinks like you
- Is kind to you
- Or even who is related to you but who-ever.
Let’s be open to these divine appointments set by God, and when it’s in your ability to show love, do it!