I am the good Samaritan. That’s right, if I were walking down the road and a beaten man was lying there, I would help him. It is my love for humanity and generosity that allow me to be so kind. Do you believe that? For what its wroth, I’m not sure that I believe it. I want to, but my experience tells me otherwise. How far, for example, do I go with it. Just yesterday, I was sitting at a stop light watching a woman pull a suitcase through a busy intersection. She was headed toward the airport, but still a couple of miles away. My immediate thought was, “hey, I bet she could use a ride.” I continued to watch her, eventually from my rearview mirror, as she made it across the street. I felt relief when a man greeted her as she pulled her suitcase up on the curb. That’s when I decided that she wasn’t heading to the airport at all. She was probably headed to a nearby office and chose to walk so that she could get some exercise and enjoy the nice weather.
I’m hoping that you noticed the shift in my thoughts as I passed by the woman with the suitcase. I had to change the story in my head. Had I not, I would have been confronted with feelings that I don’t want to deal with. For all of us, changing the story is one way that we are able to justify our actions. Ironically, the same was true for the man the parable of the good Samaritan. We find it in verse 29. It says, “But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, And who is my neighbor?” Sadly, my actions are no different than his. They are just in a different context.
God doesn’t want us to justify our actions. He wants us to confront them, head-on with full disclosure. That is why he tells this parable. His goal is not for us to wallow in guilt and shame, but to rest instead on his perfect grace. As we do, He will give us the kindness, goodness and gentleness that we need to serve our neighbor perfectly. Jesus, in fact, becomes our justification.