A Lesson from the Good Samaritan

Amber Ginter

iBelieve Contributing Writer
Published Jun 25, 2024
A Lesson from the Good Samaritan

We as Christians are called to provide support for a lifetime. Check in often. Pray with them often. But don't guilt them into feeling less-than when their injuries prevail.

Earlier this week, my husband and I went for some routine bloodwork. On our way back, we decided to walk through the mall. All was swell until I noticed someone had Door-Dashed food and left it outside a store. With the temperature in the low 100s, I knew the quality of the food wouldn't last long. At first, I passed it by. A mere ten steps later, however, I raced back. I felt the urge to do what God calls "the Good Samaritan action."  

Looking at the delivery tag on the small Texas Roadhouse bag, I saw that the food had already been outside for 30 minutes. Perched against the Tiffany & Co. entrance, I swallowed my pride and marched inside. I wasn't dressed for the occasion, and I certainly wasn't dressed to face those in suits and ties inside the store. My husband thought I was crazy. But deep down, I knew I was doing the right thing. 

Thankfully, I found the owner of the food. They were gracious as I told them about their delivery, but they were frustrated that no one had told them sooner. That got me thinking about this: 

We all want to be the Good Samaritan in our marriages, friendships, and close relationships–the person who loves God with all their heart, soul, mind, and soul and loves their neighbor as themselves (Matthew 22:37-38). But, sometimes, being the Good Samaritan requires us to do the right thing even when it's hard. Sometimes, it requires us to do the right thing, even and especially when everyone around is watching and too afraid to do the right thing themselves. 

A Lesson from Scripture

Luke 10:25-37 tells the story this way: One day, an expert in the law decided to test Jesus with a series of questions. This was normal for these kinds of individuals as they didn't really care what Jesus said unless it meant they could trap Him with His own words. 

"Teacher," he asked, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" (vs.25)

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” (vs.26)

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.’” (vs.27)

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” (vs.28)

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (vs.29)

If you notice, what the expert in the law desired most was to trap Jesus in His beliefs. This is why he kept asking questions like, "What must I do?" and "Who is my neighbor?". If he truly knew Jesus, perhaps he wouldn't have been asking such trivial questions. Perhaps he would've realized the essence of John 14:15 and 1 John 5:1-5, that if we love Jesus, we will obey His commands. It's not because they are burdensome or what saves us, but because when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, He leads us to obey and follow Him through our actions—actions like being the Good Samaritan and loving our neighbor as ourselves. 

Who Is My Neighbor?

Jesus uses the illustration of a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho to answer this question. As a quick recap, this man was minding his business when a group of robbers attacked him and left him for dead. Not only did they strip him of his clothes but his wealth and dignity. The Scriptures tell us, "They stripped him of his clothes, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead" (vs.30b). 

To most of us, this scene sounds horrific. I would hope that if we saw someone like this today, we would jump to the rescue, call 9-1-1, and do everything to nurse the stranger back to health. But there's one greater detail you might not have thought about before. 

Three people saw this man half-dead. 

A priest.

A Levite.

And a Samaritan. 

It was the least "holy" one who did the right thing. 

The priest and Levite, though they were well-known in society, passed by to the other side. This represents those of us who see those in need but are too busy to stop. Instead of making time, we choose not to see. We cross the crowded street to the other side and declare it's someone else's problem. But if we were truly the embodiment of priests and Levites, shouldn't we know and obey what God's Word says about helping those in need? Shouldn't we love God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matthew 22:37)? 

Priests and Levites were some of the most frequent travelers during this time. They were also the most well-respected and obliged to show mercy in the town. And yet, though they knew the Law, they couldn't see past it. 

They knew to defend the weak, uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed, and give to those in need (Psalm 82:3; Proverbs 14:31; Matthew 5:42). They believed in practicing hospitality, sharing with the least of these, and giving without reluctance (Romans 12:13; Proverbs 19:17; Matthew 25:444-45; 2 Corinthians 9:7). But touching an unclean man would've made the priest unclean. And going to that side of the street was dangerous. What if he was killed?!

When it came to walking the talk, they walked on, leaving the talk behind. I wonder if this is why they didn't stop. I wonder if this is what they couldn't see past. I wonder why those who were supposed to show God's love most revealed it least. 

Which of the Three Are You?

The Samaritan, on the other hand, saw the man in need and took pity on him. The Blue Letter Bible defines a Samaritan as "an inhabitant either of the city or of the province of Samaria." Samaritans were low-class. Further study reveals that the Jews often called them "half-breeds." Scandals of the two peoples intermarrying only increased the hatred between the Jews and Samaritans, similar to that of the Hatfield and McCoy's: long-standing and dated. Jews would have nothing to do with them because of their intermarriage and inability to keep the entire Law. The Samaritan was the least likely to have shown compassion for this man. And yet, Jesus uses him, to answer this question.

The moral is this: We don't know if the injured man was a Jew, Gentile, mentally insane, or random homeless man on the side of the street, but the Samaritan stopped. He didn't ask about his religion, race, or how he even landed himself in this situation. He didn't place blame. He didn't tell him to pray or read his Bible more. He didn't tell him it was his fault that he ended up in this predicament. He didn't tell him, "God helps those who help themselves."

The Good Samaritan saw the man and immediately stopped. In compassion, "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'" (vs.34-35, NIV). 

Who was the neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers? The Good Samaritan. The least holy of the bunch. And who is our neighbor? Anyone who is in need, regardless of their race, gender, ethnicity, and religion, including ours. It's not about what we say we believe. It's about how we live it out in word and deed. 

Got Questions says it this way: "Because the good man was a Samaritan, Jesus is drawing a strong contrast between those who knew the law and those who actually followed the law in their lifestyle and conduct. Jesus now asks the lawyer if he can apply the lesson to his own life with the question 'So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?' (Luke 10:36). Once again, the lawyer’s answer is telling of his personal hardness of heart. He cannot bring himself to say the word 'Samaritan'; he refers to the 'good man' as 'he who showed mercy.' His hate for the Samaritans (his neighbors) was so strong that he couldn’t even refer to them in a proper way. Jesus then tells the lawyer to 'go and do likewise,' meaning that he should start living what the law tells him to do."

A Mental Health Connection

The parable of the Good Samaritan has always been about doing the right thing when people are watching and when people aren't. It's also about how we as Christians, no matter where we're at in our walk with Christ, can serve those around us who are hurting.

Mental health challenges are something I write about often. They heavily dominate today's society, but there are not enough Christians standing for truth on this topic. Many Bible stories, including this one, point to evidence of how we should care for those in need. Telling them to simply pray and read their Bibles more isn't at the top of the list. While reading Scripture and praying are important, these people also need love. They need validation, compassion, self-sacrifice, support, and understanding, just like the Samaritan showed the man attacked by robbers. 

The Good Samaritan validated this man's injuries. He didn't blame him for what happened but set to work bandaging his wounds. Sometimes, the most helpful thing we can do for those who are hurting is to listen and validate the pain they're experiencing. 

The Good Samaritan showed compassion and self-sacrifice. He knew it was a risk to stop and care for this man, but he prioritized helping a wounded stranger over what others would think of him. He modeled the love Jesus shows each of us daily and spent his time, money, and convenience to help him. In 21st-century terms, that probably meant he had less time and money for Starbucks and leisure time that week, but he cultivated self-sacrificial love over himself. 

The Good Samaritan also provided support and understanding beyond his initial interaction. After cleaning and bandaging the man's wounds, taking him to an inn, and caring for him, the Samaritan paid the cost. He then took a step further and offered to pay for extra expenses that would result. When we care for those in need, especially those with mental health struggles, we have to remember their injuries are going to take time to heal. We as Christians are called to provide support for a lifetime. Check in often. Pray with them often. But don't guilt them into feeling less-than when their injuries prevail. 

A Good Samaritan loves God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matthew 22:37). And they love their neighbor as themselves (Matthew 22:38). Sometimes, a Good Samaritan might even love the other person a little bit more than themselves. After all, isn't that how Jesus loved us? Sending His Son to die on the cross for us while we were still sinners. No guarantee that we might love Him back. Loving us more than we'll ever be capable of loving Him. That's the love we're called to show others, whether they're our neighbor or not. 

How can you be a Good Samaritan today?

Agape, Amber 

Photo Credit: ©DALL-E, created by SWN using AI

amber ginter headshotAmber Ginter is a teacher-turned-author who loves Jesus, her husband Ben, and granola. Growing up Amber looked for faith and mental health resources and found none. Today, she offers hope for young Christians struggling with mental illness that goes beyond simply reading your Bible and praying more. Because you can love Jesus and still suffer from anxiety. You can download her top faith and mental health resources for free to help navigate books, podcasts, videos, and influencers from a faith lens perspective. Visit her website at amberginter.com.