Volunteering & The Parable of the Good Samaritan

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I think just about everyone has a general understanding of the parable of the Good Samaritan. It is one of the classic parables or stories recounted in the Bible (Luke 10:25-37).

Quite honestly, it had been quite some time since I had given this story much thought, so I dusted off my King James version of the Bible and also did a bit of research on who the Samaritans were as a people.  There are also numerous websites providing analysis of this parable, which provided some very interesting insights and perspectives.

The parable was told by Jesus in response to a lawyer who asked how he might “inherit eternal life”.  To make his point clear, Jesus used the Samaritan as the hero in the story, knowing full well that the relationship between the Jews and the Samaritans was tenuous at the best of times.  We do not know for sure if the injured man was a Jew, but the circumstances of the incident suggest a high probability that he was.  As a result, the fact that two other Jews (the Priest and the Levite) who were quite likely from Jerusalem as well, passed by him without stopping to help is a powerful example of not helping one’s “neighbour” at a time of need.

One of the websites I found gave some perspective on why the Priest and the Levite may have chosen to not help the injured man.  The reasons boiled down to:

  1. Inconvenience
  2. Personal financial cost
  3. Potential personal & family risk
  4. Impact on personal status

Along comes the Samaritan, who is clearly not a “neighbour” of the injured man.  Not only does he stop and take the time to tend to his injuries, he then loads him onto his animal and transports the man to an inn for further care.

But it does not end there!

The Samaritan does not leave the injured man until the next morning, but before he resumes his journey he gives the innkeeper the equivalent of two days wages to pay for his continuing care.

But again, it does not end there…

Knowing that it may take more than what he had given to the innkeeper to get the injured man back on his feet, he advises him that he will return and repay any extra amounts spent.

The Samaritan gave not only his time (at an inconvenient time), but used his own personal assets (wine, oil, animal) and money.

The Samaritan did all of these things voluntarily, without expectation of repayment, reward, advantage or eternal life.

Why?

Because it was the right thing to do!

So, the next time you get a phone call, email or other form of a request for help from a neighbour or community service organization, ask yourself:

“What would the Good Samaritan do?”

Then, do the right thing…

Volunteer!

 

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