Monday, February 16, 2015, 6:57 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Broken and Contrite.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 10:25-37 (ESV).
Do This To Live
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
We know from reading the gospels that not one of us can be saved by merely following a set of rules or by keeping the law. For one, not one of us could ever keep the law perfectly. We all stumble in many ways. We are born into sin. There is no one righteous, no not one. Not one of us could love the Lord God with our whole heart, soul, strength and mind 24/7. I know that especially today. I don’t do well when storm systems come through. They play havoc with my head. I don’t always get headaches, but I feel like I am driving through the mountains or like my head is in a tunnel. The Lord woke me 6 hours ago to write this, yet I am just now really getting started. I allowed myself to get distracted with other things, as well. So, if I had to love God with all my heart, strength, soul and mind in order to be saved, let alone loving my neighbor as myself, I would not make it. I am a clay vessel.
So, why did Jesus tell him if he did this he would live? Jesus obviously knew the man could not do this. Perhaps it was to make the man aware that it was humanly impossible for him to be saved. No amount of good works or trying to keep all the law would save him. Yet, nothing is impossible with God, according to his righteousness. Jesus made the way possible for us to be saved apart from human works and apart from keeping the law with absolute perfection, since none of us could do this. Jesus Christ, God the Son, became human for us and died on a cross, taking upon himself the sins of the entire world. He paid the price for our sin so that we could be saved, and so we could live eternally with God. It is by God’s grace, through faith, that we are able to receive such a great salvation (See Eph. 2:8-9).
Nonetheless, our salvation is not absent of works (See: Eph. 2:10) nor is it absent of the necessity of love for God and obedience to his commands (See: Ro. 6:16; Heb. 5:9; 1 Jn. 2:3-5; 3:24; 5:3; 2 Jn. 1:6; 1 Pet. 1:2). The difference now is that, as believers in Jesus Christ, we are saved by God’s grace, our sin atoned for, and we are forgiven because of God’s great love for us. We are now empowered with the Holy Spirit to live for God. We don’t have to live perfect lives and keep the law perfectly to be saved. We don’t earn or deserve our own salvation. Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners. Yet, God’s grace is also not a free license to continue in sin thinking we now have our ticket into heaven and that God requires nothing of us. He demands obedience, repentance and genuine love for himself, not to earn our salvation, though, but as a love response to him for what he did for us, and as evidence that we have truly trusted in him as Lord and Savior of our lives.
Justifying and Rationalizing
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
The man, possibly realizing that he could not do as Jesus had said, looked for a loophole. He tried to find a way around obeying the Lord, i.e. to justify himself, knowing that he was not loving God fully and that he lacked in love for his neighbors. That is human nature, is it not, to try to find ways around obeying what we know is true? We justify, rationalize and modify so that we can continue to do what we know is wrong or so that we can excuse away not doing what we know is right for us to do. Yet, even when we are faithless, Jesus remains faithful. He will lovingly and gently speak truth to our hearts in ways that will let us know that we are not going the right way or that we are lacking in love and devotion for him or in love for our fellow humans. And, then he will tell us to now do what he has shown us. He will challenge us to not only just listen to the Word but to do what it says (See Jas. 1:22-25).
Jesus’ Life Through Us
Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
In order to get his message across to the man, Jesus gave him the message in the form of a story (a parable) to illustrate his point. I believe there is a message for all of us in this story. Not one of us loves perfectly. I know I am always growing in this area of loving others with God’s love and according to how God loves me. So, I am praying that the Lord Jesus will teach me what he wants me to learn from this lesson today.
I want to first of all look at who this injured man might represent to us today. The main point of the story, I believe, is that someone was hurting and that he needed help, mercy and healing. There are many hurting people in this life all around us every day. First and foremost, I believe, are those who are dead in their sins, beaten down by sin’s deceitfulness who need salvation. Then, there are those believers in Jesus who have fallen prey to deception and the tricks of the devil who have fallen for false teaching or for Satan’s lies which tell them it is ok for them to continue in sin and that God is still pleased with them. Then there are those who are physically hurting, perhaps due to the mistreatment at the hands of others, or just because they live in flesh bodies on this earth, or because of damage they have done to their own bodies, etc. And, then there are those who are hurting emotionally, either because of painful childhood memories, or because of being beaten down emotionally (and verbally) by others, or because of the death of a loved one or some other kind of loss, or because of loneliness, disappointment or discouragement, etc.
These people are all around us. We can either choose to look the other way and to ignore their pain and suffering, or we can pray for a heart of compassion, mercy, understanding, and sympathy, and for wisdom and discernment to know how best to meet their real needs. And, I believe what I just said there is KEY to their healing. We need to see what their real needs are so we can meet them. There are some people who are the sympathetic kind who genuinely feel with others in their need, but they try to put Band-Aids over serious wounds, or they tell them lies just to make them feel good. Lies are never kind and neither are Band-Aids over serious wounds, though in no way here am I am diminishing or discounting the necessity of a kind word, or a hug or a smile. Those things are essential, too, and we all need them!! I do!! My grandchildren’s hugs are some of the best medicine ever!!
The thing I noticed about this Samaritan who stopped to help the man is that he took this injured man’s needs seriously and he went the extra mile to make sure that the man was brought to complete healing. He didn’t do a quick fix and then go on his way. He didn’t say a bunch of flowery words hoping it would make the man feel better about his wounds. He bound up the man’s wounds and poured on them oil and wine. I imagine that this stung, initially, but that it soon brought relief and much healing. Sometimes, if the wound of people is a sin wound, in particular, we may have to give some words of counsel and correction, and those may sting initially, but if received well, they should result in much healing. The Samaritan assessed the man’s wounds, determined what was necessary for healing to take place, and then he applied the necessary treatment which he believed would bring true healing to the man. Quick fixes or lies to make people feel good never addresses the real wounds and therefore true healing cannot take place.
The Samaritan didn’t just leave the man then, hoping that would suffice. He went the distance. He made sure that the man was cared for, even if he could not care for him himself. We can’t always do this. Sometimes we meet people only briefly and we share words of encouragement, hope and healing with them, and then they are out of our lives. Sometimes people are not receptive to our words or actions meant to bring healing to them, for they want to continue to live with their serious wounds seething, i.e. they don’t want our help. But, as we have opportunity, and if follow-up is possible, and the injured seem receptive to our reaching out to them in love, then we should do what we can to help see them to complete healing (man to man and woman to woman). But, in order for us to do this, again it is imperative that we do like this Samaritan did in assessing the seriousness of the situation and by applying what is truly necessary for the wounds to be healed. God will give us wisdom in this if we call upon him and ask for help.
Sometimes we may be the wounded who are in need of healing, too, and perhaps everyone is just looking the other way or they are ignoring our wounds, which only compounds them more. Sometimes those who should reach out to us in love only wound us more with their rejection, hatred, persecution and mistreatment of us because they don’t want to be bothered with us because we don’t fit into their plans for their own lives or for their “church,” for that matter. We are too messy to them, and they don’t want to be bothered. And, so it is just easier for them to pass us by or to send us somewhere else, but with no plan for our healing and with no follow-up. They are just discarding us, period!
So, no matter where you are right now, i.e. if you are the wounded needing a healing touch, and/or if you are the one needing to reach out to others in need of hope and healing, we should take our burdens to Jesus Christ, lay them at his feet, pray for wisdom and for understanding, follow him wherever he leads us, and be Jesus to the world around us.
Broken and Contrite / An Original Work / May 13, 2012
I come before You, Lord, my Savior,
With humble heart and crushed in spirit.
I bow before You, I implore You,
Heal my broken heart, I pray.
Love You, Jesus, Lord, my master,
You are the King of my heart.
Lord, purify my heart within me;
Sanctify me, whole within.
Oh, Lord, I long to obey fully
The words You’ve spoken through Your Spirit.
I pray You give me grace and mercy,
Strength and wisdom to obey.
Father God, my heart’s desire,
Won’t You set my heart on fire?
Lord, cleanse my heart of all that hinders
My walk with You, now I pray.
Oh, Jesus, Savior, full of mercy,
My heart cries out for understanding.
I want to follow You in all ways,
Never straying from Your truth.
Holy Spirit, come in power,
Fill me with Your love today.
Lord, mold and make me;
Your hands formed me;
Live Your life through me, I pray.