…the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13:13 (KJV)
Most of us are familiar with the story of the Good Samaritan as told by Luke. A man is on his way to Jericho and is overtaken by thieves who strip him and wound him and leave him for dead.
A priest comes by, and when he sees the dying man, he moves over to the other side of the road to pass. A Levite, a temple assistant, comes and looks at him, and he, too, passes by on the other side of the road.
We criticize these men for their callous behavior, but they were doing exactly what they were supposed to do—by Law. The Law said they were not to make themselves unclean by touching anything that was defiled or impure. Obviously, a bloodied body would be unclean. They were doing what they were supposed to do.
The Samaritan, the one we call good, ignored Jewish Law (after all he was a Samaritan) and obeyed a higher law, that of love, by ministering to the man’s needs, taking him to a place for recuperation, and telling the attendant that he would pay for any extra costs.
Do we ever miss an opportunity to minister love to a hurting person because we have a church event already scheduled? Or extra money already committed? Or time already allocated? Jesus’ idea about the Law was to see the principle, the love behind the Law. The Law said that murder was wrong; Jesus said hateful thoughts were the same as murder. Love is the greater law.
We are invited to go beyond minimal requirements to instead be lavish in our loving. Let’s not be like the priest and the Levite to use the Law (our own stiff rules) to excuse our lack of love. Let’s not miss the joy of loving.
Father, open our eyes to the opportunities for pouring ourselves out in love to our neighbors. Move us beyond our traditions that sometimes serve our own selfishness. Thank you for hearing. In Jesus’ name. Amen.