Scripture: Luke 10:25-37
Journal: Where do you find yourself in today’s Scriptures? What touches you? What disturbs you? How is God asking you to be a neighbor?
Reflection: It’s a subtle difference, but a huge one. And the motivation for asking the question in the first place tells us everything we need to know about the heart behind it. And, ultimately, Jesus is always concerned with getting to the heart of the matter.
“And wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” Who do I really have to love? In other words, “What is the minimum requirement to get into heaven? I’m not really concerned with being merciful, I’m just concerned with doing enough to inherit eternal life. I’m just interested in what being merciful can do for me. So give me a minimum requirement and I’ll make sure I do that.” The problem is that selective mercy does not really come from a heart of mercy at all, but only from a desire to appear merciful, to justify ourselves. And Jesus wants far more for us (and from us) than that. Jesus wants us to be filled with a heart of compassion, so that mercy just pours out of us freely and naturally.
That’s where the subtle difference comes in. After he tells the story of the Good Samaritan, he asks the expert in the law, “Which of these was a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” Do you see the difference? One asks, “Who is my neighbor? Who do I actually have to love?” and the other asks, “Who was a neighbor? Who actually had a heart of mercy and compassion for the man?” One is concerned with who do I have to love and the other is concerned with how do I love everyone that comes into my path.
When our hearts are full of mercy and compassion there is no selectivity. Oh, I’m not saying that it should look exactly the same with everyone you come across, that will likely be determined by what is most helpful to the one that is before you at any given moment. Sometimes what looks like helping can actually be hurting. But what I am saying is that when you have a heart of compassion you do not just get a free pass to look the other way and move to the other side of the road. A heart of compassion asks, “Jesus, what would you have me do in this instance?” Merciful people show mercy, it’s just what they do—or rather, it is just who they are. Somehow we are so in touch with our own inner need and brokenness that our hearts just go out to the wounded and the broken because we recognize our own woundedness and our own need, as well as God’s great mercy to us. So, as a result of that—in view of God’s great mercy—Jesus tells us to “Go and do likewise.”
Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, give us hearts like yours; hearts filled with mercy and compassion. That we might show mercy to those around us each and every day. Amen.