Jimmy was always causing trouble at school. One day after stirring things up the troublemaker went running down the hall. When he turned the corner, he ran into the open arms of the school principal. The disgusted superintendent placed his hands on the boy’s shoulders and said, “Jimmy, I think the devil’s got a hold of you.” To which the troublemaker wholeheartedly agreed, “I think he does, too.”
Sometimes the road of life is smooth, but often the road is filled with twists and turns, hills and valleys, potholes and pitfalls. Given the challenges we face while driving in the fast lane, it is not unusual for others to vent their frustration on fellow travelers. However, occasionally we happen upon some happy soul whose outlook is bright and refreshing. What makes them so different? Why aren’t they bothered by the road conditions? Why do they drive the way they drive? What has gotten into them? In a word: Jesus. Jesus has changed their heart, transformed their mind, and saved their soul. The Holy Spirit lives in them and they practice the “golden rule” — to treat others as they would like to be treated.
Some seminary students were given the assignment to explain in a practical way Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37. Since the students used the same sidewalk to get to class, on the morning the assignment was due, the professor disguised himself as though he had been beaten and robbed. With tattered clothing, he placed himself along the path in full view of the students as they made their way to class. Their assignments were meticulously prepared, neatly written and carefully documented, but none of them paid any attention to the injured man or offered to help. Intellectually, their assignment on compassion was completed, but on a practical sense, they missed the point.
The Bible encourages us to become personally involved in the lives of others. James 2:15-16 says, “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?” Your intentions may be good, but they are meaningless without action. 1 John 3:17 agrees, “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” It is easy to talk about love and goodness but putting these virtues into practice is much more challenging. The adage rightfully declares, “when everything is said and done, more will be said than done.”
If you are like me, you have been blessed beyond measure. These are economically uncertain times, but Proverbs 10:22 reminds us, “the blessing of the Lord makes a person rich.” This does not necessarily refer to monetary wealth, but God has promised to supply our needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19). You may have more than enough, but there are needy people all around us. We are blessed to live in a community where many of these needs can be met. There are programs designed to meet the physical, material and emotional needs of people, which is good and important. However, a person’s greatest need is to be loved and respected. We can meet the needs of others through our financial donations, but there is nothing like personal involvement from someone who knows how to show love.
1 John 3:18 encourages us to not love only with words but with actions and in truth. It is important to let people know how much we care, but beyond our verbal declarations, we need to put love into action. Personal involvement in somebody’s life can make a long-lasting difference.
As you travel life’s highway, you will encounter opportunities to help other travelers. If you want, you can choose to be like the seminary students who mentally understood what compassion was but was the extent of it. Or you can roll up your sleeves and get involved in bringing hope and healing into the life of a wounded soul through genuine acts of love and goodness. I suspect that Jesus would choose the second option! Former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, rightfully said, “no one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions.”
Good intentions are only as good as our good actions. Choose to live such a good life that you will have the people around you wondering what has gotten into you.