The Good Samaritan: Pay Day Some Day

Good SamaritanWhile I was doing a little reading last night, I found my way to Proverbs 19:17: “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lordand he will repay him for his deed (ESV).”  The Message provides this rendering of that verse:  “Mercy to the needy is a loan to God,and God pays back those loans in full.”

After reading this verse, a couple of questions came to my mind:

  • If God repays those who are generous to the poor, how does he reward those who are miserly?
  • Is this verse to be interpreted in just a physical sense or is their also a spiritual significance as in the poverty of the nonbeliever?

My musing led me to think about how this verse could be applied to the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10.  In this story a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho was robbed and left badly beaten.  This man was seen by three different individuals:

  • The thieves saw him and said:  “What’s yours is ours, so we’ll just take it.”
  • The priest saw him and said:  “What’s mine is mine, and I won’t share it.”
  • The Samaritan said:  “What’s mine is God’s, so I’ll bless you with it.”

Which of these three individuals embraced the principle of Proverbs 19:17? Which one of the them showed mercy, exhibited kindness, and manifested generosity?  How do you respond when you see someone in need?

Whoever is kind to the poor is lending to the Lord
    the benefit of his gift will return to him in abundance.

Proverbs 19:17 (ISV).

When “God Bless You” is Nonsense

homelessWednesday of this week was a busy day, and I really didn’t think I had the time to deal with the situation at hand. I had been “rushed” all day long, and I still had work to do before I’d be ready for two more meetings.

Even if I took the time, money was going to be an i$$ue. The church had already helped several people, and when this happens money can do an abrupt disappearing act.

So what do you say when you hear a trouble voice on the other end of the phone say: “I have no money. I have no food. I have no place to sleep tonight. If you could help me with a place to stay for just tonight, I’d really be grateful.”

The funds were low, my preparation time was almost gone, and I was ready to say: “My heart goes out to you, but due to limited resources we just can’t help you now.” In fact, I did say it. Then I quickly said: “Go ahead and come to my office. I’ll figure out some way to take care of the bill.”

I did more than pay for a night in a hotel, I also arranged for her to get food for supper; but, what meant the most to her was that I listened to her as she told her story. She was then willing to listen to me as I told the story of God’s love for her.

Now here is the reason I couldn’t deny her request: While I was listening to her with my left ear, I was hearing the words of James in my right ear: “Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense (James 2:14-17)?”

“God bless you” to this woman would have been God-talk without God-acts, and it would have been nonsense—I’m glad James whispered in my ear.