"Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care."
There is a story of two sociologists who, while walking down the street, see a man lying unconscious and covered with cuts and bruises from a terrible mugging. One of the sociologists turns to the other and says, “Wow, whoever did this really needs our help.”
There is a Peanuts cartoon that depicts Snoopy shivering outside in a snowstorm. Charlie Brown and Linus are walking by and Charlie Brown says, “Snoopy looks kind of cold, doesn’t he?” To which Linus replies, “I’ll say he does. Maybe we’d better go over and comfort him.” They walk over to Snoopy and say, “Be of good cheer Snoopy,” then walk away.
Sometimes, this is how we Christians can react to others in need. We intellectualize the problem, think of encouraging words, or simply view someone’s condition as the consequences of poor choices.
Jesus tells us a different story.
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 traveled, 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 denariiand 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 neighbor 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.
The command to love, to show mercy, can be difficult. Following God can be painful.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
—1 John 3:16–18
So, do we pray that the difficulties we face when “laying down our lives” be removed? Sure we can. But we should not be shocked if God answers “no.”
Paul asks God to remove his difficulties (2 Corinthians 12). God refuses, and is glorified even more. Job prays for God to end his suffering. God refuses and is glorified all the more. Jesus, God’s own son, prays that the cup of suffering would pass from Him. Again, God refuses and thereby saves His people from their sins.
So what are we left with?
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Questions for reflection and discussion: How is Christ asking us to show love to others? What “pain” is there in loving others as Christ commanded? What are we to do with this pain?
The devotionals this week were written by Scott Young. Scott is involved in WBC’s local outreach ministries. He and his wife, Nancy, have been members of WBC for more than 30 years.