You'll recall that in the story, a man was robbed and left for dead. Two people walked passed him, offering no help. In fact, they walked on the other side of the road. Then came the man from Samaria, thus called a Samaritan. This is what he did, and thus what we should do for those in need:
- He had compassion (rather than judgment or disgust) for the man in need.
- The Samaritan went to him, rather than waiting for the man to ask for help.
- He bound up his wounds, probably using his own clothing as bandages because it's doubtful that he was carrying a medical kit.
- He set him on his own beast, sacrificing his own convenience.
- He brought him to an inn and took care of him all through the night. He did not leave him during his critical hour.
- He gave the inn-keeper two pence, the equivalent of two days' wages, to pay for the man's care as well as promising to pay any other debt necessary to nurse the man back to health.
Another striking bit of background is that there was a great deal of contention between the Samaritans and the Jews. The two groups were bitter enemies. Nowhere in the parable does the Samaritan ask the man if he is a Jew. He does not waste time debating if the man is worthy of help, he simply gives it.
The modern day translation of this story is the homeless man standing outside the grocery store or on the freeway off ramp. I realize that we have to protect ourselves from danger, especially as women, but there are so many ways we can meet needs while protecting our safety. It is not our place to judge whether the need is real or not. We error in assuming this is another scam that we've heard so much about. Our instinct should be compassion and our actions should reflect that. Our service ought to inconvenience us so that we are affected and changed by the experience. If someone is hungry, feed them. And feed them as you want to eat. (Love thy neighbor as thyself.) At the very least, if you see someone lying on the sidewalk, treat them like a human being instead of walking across the street and not looking back. When I worked with homeless people in downtown Phoenix, one of the things that broke my heart was hearing them talk about not feeling human; having people avoid eye contact with them as if they didn't exist. If you dont want to give money, at least give a little acknowledgment.
I heard a quote today, "We can all choose our friends but God gives us neighbors everywhere and commands that we love them too."