Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side….” (Luke 10:30-32)
One night famed evangelist D.L. Moody was traveling by train to his next meeting. He was accompanied by his friend D. B. Towner. At one of the way stations a young man who had been in a drunken brawl boarded the train. His clothes were disheveled, his face was bruised and bloodied, and he was still drunk and in a mood for fighting. Unfortunately, he recognized Moody and began to taunt him by mockingly singing some of the classic hymns in a loud and contentious way.
Moody was in no mood to hear it, and he asked the train workers to deal with the man. One of them did so by quieting the drunk, escorting him to another place, and kindly washing his face and treating his bruises. Moody didn’t see any of this, but when he heard about it later the news washed a wave of conviction all over him. He said, “Just think, only last night I was preaching about the Good Samaritan, and yet this morning I find my feet in the shoes of both the priest and the Levite! This trainman’s action has served as a rebuke to me from the Lord!”
As best I can tell, our society is more cutthroat and uncaring than it has ever been. Common decency is on the wane and courtesy has become an endangered species. It’s gotten to a point where a genuine act of kindness is somewhat shocking. When you find yourself the recipient of one, you have to pause for a moment and think as to how to respond because you are so unaccustomed to anyone treating you that way. That’s a sad commentary.
As usual, though, Jesus calls the Christian to a far higher standard. Certainly we are to be filled with integrity, honesty, and morality, but all that only makes for a straight-walking legalist if it isn’t mixed with kindness, compassion, and concern for others. Jesus simply doesn’t allow us the option of being self-centered and self-serving. Furthermore, He doesn’t want us living in aloof isolation from a fallen, depraved world where “road agent” thieves do their damage and obnoxious drunks walk out of bars and onto trains. No, we’re supposed to be out there right in the middle of the whole mess ministering to others the way that Jesus would if He was on the scene.
Each Christian has God the Holy Spirit living inside him/her. And what does Galatians 5:22-23 tell us about the fruit of the Spirit? Those verses say:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Christian, be sure to notice those words that I’ve emphasized in black. They are the traits that D.L. Moody didn’t exhibit toward that loudmouthed drunk who was annoying him. But we can’t honestly be too hard on Moody, can we? We can’t because each of us has been guilty at times of failing to play the good Samaritan to someone who needed our help. So, today, let’s make a point of doing a better job at this. Let’s be on the alert for someone to whom we can be loving, longsuffering, kind, good, and gentle. Chances are, living in our society, we won’t have to look very hard.