After over 30 years in ministry, I am clear that my calling is to teach people faith in God and His Kingdom and share biblical truth. Here is a truth, when we place our faith in God, “what is important is faith expressing itself in love.”
God loves people. This simple but profound truth will help you understand what I’m about to share.
Most people understand what it means to be a “good Samaritan.” When a stranger performs an act of kindness to someone they don’t know, the media will call that person a good Samaritan.
Here’s the back story. In the Bible, a lawyer asks Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25). Jesus answers, “to love your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.”
The lawyer asks a follow-up question. “Well, who is my neighbor?” Jesus responds with what is commonly called “the parable of the good Samaritan."
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A man is beaten by robbers and left for dead by the side of the road. Two religious men pass by at different times, but never stop to help. A third man comes by, bandages his wounds, and takes him to an inn. He asks the innkeeper to care for him until he returns, promising to pay for all expenses. The third man was a Samaritan.
Jesus ends the story by asking who was the neighbor to the man left for dead by the side of the road. Interestingly, back in Jesus’ day, Samaritans were considered anything but “good.” This hostility had existed for generations.
I believe Jesus was teaching that your neighbor is not just the person who lives next door or from your same “tribe,” political party or social group. They may not look like you, talk like you or even believe like you. Your neighbor is anyone who needs God’s love and grace, and that definition includes everyone on the planet.
Jesus’ teachings give us pictures of our deficits without God, which leads to repentance and a change of heart.
When conflicts do occur, what is often missing is wisdom.
Someone may ask, how can we love when there is so much division?
Let me give an extreme example to illustrate how this is possible. I was a fighter pilot during the Vietnam War. After serving my country, I was honorably discharged from the U.S. Air Force with military honors, including the Distinguished Flying Cross and The Air Medal for performance in combat.
Although I saw my share of enemy combatants, I never allowed myself to hate the enemy. Hatred damages the soul, and can stay with a soldier long after his or her tour of duty ends. As a soldier, I had taken an oath to protect and serve my country. I didn’t have to hate in order to fight.
Disagreements, even those that lead to war, don’t have to lead to hate. When conflicts do occur, what is often missing is wisdom. Ecclesiastes says, “Wisdom is better than weapons of war.”
As I mentioned on the "OutLoud with Gianno Caldwell" podcast last week, many people today are saying that our country is so divided, can we come together? I believe we can, and it starts with seeing “our neighbor” through a different lens.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”
He was not talking about human love, but God’s Love. This is a love that you cannot receive without God. It requires turning things over to God because only He can fix a matter that is beyond human repair.
Love is a part of God’s supernatural disposition, just like joy and peace, and in God, we have the ability to have His disposition. I believe this disposition is how Dr. King could continue to walk in love during very troubled times.
Fear is one of the biggest reasons why many people don’t walk in love. As one minister wrote, “Selfishness is the foundation of fear. Love is the foundation of faith.” Fear will never allow you to be a good Samaritan because it will always ask, “What’s going to happen to me if I help this man? LOVE asks, “What will happen to him if I don’t?”
In his sermon “The Drum Major Instinct,” Dr. King preached that we all desire to feel important and lead the parade. He said there is nothing wrong with that, but we should first desire to be Number One in LOVE.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” It’s now “a time to love” (verse 8).