Love thy neighbor as you love yourself. What exactly does that mean? What does it mean to be a good samaritan? These days, more of us are placing limits on our love and compassion — too many people say they “love,” but they place conditions and restrictions on that love. Why?
If you’re not familiar with the Parables, they’re stories Jesus Christ used to teach men about heavenly concepts — He used words and ideas that would be familiar to us, so that we could understand the lesson we are meant to learn.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan is Christ’s answer to a Lawyer who asked Jesus “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “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, Love your neighbor as yourself.”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“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.”
I believe that the meaning of this teaching is that the man, who was an expert in the laws of men, wanted to know what he should do to have eternal life — like most Lawyers, he wanted to know the facts, or perhaps the minimum he had to do in order to have eternal life. Christ’s answer was a teaching — “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, Love your neighbor as yourself.” When the man realized that to truly be a good samaritan, (a good neighbor) he must love his fellow man (neighbor) as he does himself, he understood the lesson.
When we’re kind and generous only when it suits us, are we really being good people? Are we a good Samaritan if we selectively pick and choose who to love and help? Love and compassion should be given and received freely, without hesitation, so that it’s part of our hearts and soul — my take away on the lesson is that one must want to freely and willingly love, help, support and encourage all of our fellow man.
You may not be Christian or even a person of faith for that matter, but the teaching and lesson applies to all of us, regardless of our religious beliefs, or lack thereof. After all, being a good person should be something we all aspire to.