Remember the story of the Good Samaritan? A man is attacked by bandits and left for dead when two religious leaders happen to come along. The religious leaders see the man, but they pass right by him. Maybe they had pressing matters to attend to, or maybe they felt overwhelmed by the prospect of helping. Whatever their circumstances, they did not lend a helping hand. Instead, it was a despised (by the culture of the day) Samaritan who was moved with compassion and helped the man in need.
What can we learn from the Samaritan?
First, the Samaritan STOPPED… We have no way of knowing what the Samaritan was thinking on this particular day, but his example shows that he stopped. The busyness of life often puts blinders on us so that all we see is what is directly in front of us. The Samaritan reminds us we must be intentional about giving moments to God every day and paying attention to what and who has been placed around you. Are you willing to stop when you see a need?
Second, he LOOKED… The Samaritan saw the man beaten and injured. What he saw caused him to show kindness and meet the need. There are people with needs all around us. Some of what is seen around us can be intimidating and even heart-wrenching. Are you willing to look at the needs around you?
Finally, he LISTENED…The story of the Samaritan begins with a man trying to test Jesus about what it means to live for God. Jesus responded, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” We don’t know for sure, but maybe this Samaritan knew this part of God’s law. Certainly, the religious leaders knew of it, but hearing and listening are two different things. In this story only one person demonstrated he had listened, the Samaritan. He was a neighbor by putting God’s love into practice.
In the same way, Local Service requires us to STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN to those whom we encounter on a regular basis. It is more than a one-time event; it must be part of our regular lives, especially for believers. Giving a meal to a person will not get them off of the streets. Cleaning a park will definitely have to be done again, but it is in showing kindness that the light of believers shines before men and allows them to glorify God.
Isaiah 58:7 reminds us that God is interested in seeing “us sharing our food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into our homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to our own families.” Being involved in local service in the community and neighborhood around you gives us an opportunity to be kind. An act of simple kindness cannot be underestimated. Scripture tells us that it is His kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4).
Is His kindness being displayed in you? It can by taking a moment to STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN.