By Robert Wilkerson
“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” a teacher of the law asked Jesus. “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,” Jesus answered. However, the man, trying to justify himself, asked, “Who is my neighbor?”
Then Jesus told him a story of a man on a trip who was attacked by thieves. They robbed him, beat him nearly to death, took his clothes and left him on the side of the road to die. There are four types of people in Jesus’ story—thieves, victims, religionists and Samaritans.
There were thieves, like some today. They will rob you, beat you, rape you and kill you. However, most thieves today are more subtle. There are businesses and corporations that are thieves. They work their people hard, pay only poverty-level wages and provide no health insurance or other benefits. Many Americans are working two or more jobs and still can’t make it. Loan companies and banks that charge outrageous interest rates and hidden fees fall into this category. In addition, there are workers who are thieves. They steal from their employer. They steal money, materials, and supplies, and they steal time by not giving their employers an honest day’s work for their pay.
The victim was a man who, through no fault of his own, had lost everything but his life, and had become a needy person. Some people are like him in our world today. They want to work, but can’t due to sickness, disability or old age. Others can’t work because the factories have closed, and their jobs are now overseas. Many were left behind due to a fast-changing workplace. These people have neither the higher education nor specialized training the market requires and unfortunately, many are too old or too poor to get the education and training.
Among those passing by the man without helping him were two religious people. They walked on the other side and simply ignored him, not wanting to see him or his need. They agreed with the teachings of their faith mentally, but their mental agreement did not move them to action. That kind of belief is rubbish. It does not please God or bless others. We should never deceive ourselves into thinking we are Christians if we don’t have love and compassion for the poor and needy, or if we never do anything to help them. It is in the doing that counts. If we are not doing, we are not blessing, and we will not be blessed. If we cannot love our brother whom we have seen, how can we love God whom we have not seen?
The Samaritan came along last. He went to the poor man, put medicine on his wounds and bandaged them. Then, he took him to an inn where he personally cared for the man. When he had to leave, he paid the innkeeper for the man’s continuing stay, and told him if the man owed any more, he would pay him when he came back.
We need to ask ourselves what type persons are we—thieves and robbers, victims, religionists or Samaritans.
Dr. Robert Wilkerson is a minister, writer and founder of People for the Christian Way, an organization whose mission is to encourage all people to practice Christian principles in business, politics and every area of life.