“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” - Matthew 9:6
27 Feb, 2022
Day 4: Neighbours Moved by Compassion
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
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 neighbour as yourself.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 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.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, it’s easy to read about the priest and the Levite with a critical eye. Both were devout men tasked with carrying out religious responsibilities and yet they turned a blind eye to the man in need.
However, isn’t it true that many of us can identify with them too? We often encounter stories of our neighbours in need, and we too turn to look away, or ‘cross to the other side of the road’. Sometimes, the need feels too great. It can be overwhelming and daunting to face the challenges of the world around us. At times, we may feel like we have nothing to offer. Perhaps our hearts become desensitised over time to the news that keeps flooding our senses. Perhaps, if we’re honest, to a degree our hearts have become hardened to the plight of the people in our world.
How do we act like the Good Samaritan when there is so much need? How can we be a good neighbour when it can feel so overwhelming?
Luke 10:33 says that as the Samaritan “travelled, he came to where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him”. The original Greek word for 'pity’ is the word 'splagchnizomai’ which means ’to be moved in the inward parts, to feel compassion’.
There are many instances in scripture where Jesus was moved with compassion.
As Jesus was preaching the good news and healing the sick, in Matthew 9:36 it says of Jesus that, “when he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Compassion is also a reflection of God’s heart as outlined by Jesus in the Parable of the Prodigal Son: ‘While he was still a long way off his father saw him and had compassion on him’ (Luke 10:20).
When we allow ourselves to be moved with compassion in the depths of our hearts, we too are moved to emulate the Good Samaritan in action.
Compassion yields action.
A compassionate heart is a heart that reflects God, and a little boy named Moses is a true example.
In Homa Bay, an eastern inlet of Lake Victoria in Kenya, Moses’ mother was given a food parcel packed with sugar, flour, oil, beans, rice, tea and a box of biscuits—essential items for a family that often struggled to gather enough food for one meal a day.
While this was a great comfort to Moses and his family, he couldn’t help but notice the other children around him. Seeing their hungry faces, Moses was moved with compassion. Without hesitation he took one of the packets of biscuits from the box and started giving them out to his neighbours. It was as if there was no question in his mind—if he had something and his friends did not, the obvious next step would be to share it.
We may not be able to meet all the world’s needs, but Jesus doesn’t call us to do what we cannot, He simply invites us to do what we can.
Let’s not be overwhelmed or paralysed by the gravity of the need. Instead, let’s allow our hearts to be softened and moved with compassion, so we can follow the leading of God.
We too can be a good neighbour to those in need by simply using what we have in our hand.
Even if it’s as small as a packet of biscuits.
How can you let God’s love soothe your heart and let His grace lead you into action without feeling overwhelmed or helpless?
Lord, thank You that You are an ever-present help in times of need. I pray for every individual that finds themselves in a desperate or lacking situation today. Help me to not be overwhelmed by what I see but to open my eyes and hands to do what I can, trusting that You are leading and guiding me. Amen.
How can you be a good neighbour to a child living in the developing world? You can make a difference by giving a one-off gift that will have a significant impact on their life.
Answer Hunger With Hope
345 million people are facing acute food insecurity. You can answer hunger with hope.