Just One

"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?”

Luke 15:4

It’s almost three thirty in the morning and I couldn’t sleep. I was laying in bed thinking about our cities homeless population that overwhelms me. I pray for the homeless, I reach out to many in my daily travels. I deliberately seek them out when possible to learn more of their stories in hopes that somehow I can make a difference. I was asking God tonight if any of our homeless population felt as helpless at ever making it off the streets as I do in trying to help them actually succeed. As I was praying the Lord quickened the story of the “Good Samaritan” to my mind.  You can read the story in Luke 10:29-37.

The parable begins with a lawyer who tried to trick Jesus by asking a question about eternal life only to get a response from Jesus in the form of a question asking the lawyer what the law of Moses taught on the subject. To his credit, the lawyer answered correctly,(I’ll paraphrase it) “to love God with everything you have and to love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus then instructed the man that he was, in fact, correct and now he needed to go out and do it if he was going to be faithful to the law and wanted to inherit eternal life.

Pick up the conversation in verse 29, “29  But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" 30  Then Jesus answered and said: "A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31  Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32  Likewise, a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33  But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34  So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35  On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.' 36  So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?" 37  And he said, "He who showed mercy on him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

As I was recalling this story to my mind the peace of God came over my mind as the answer was right there in front of me the whole time. I felt like the little boy in the story who was walking down the beach early one morning and was throwing starfish back into the ocean. He had come upon literally hundreds of starfish that were going to die from exposure if something wasn’t done quickly as the tide was going out. He tried one by one to throw the starfish back into the ocean so that they had a chance to survive. An old man fishing nearby yelled out to the boy, “Its no use. There are too many starfish. You might as well give up as you aren’t going to make a difference.” The little boy with a look of determination on his face yelled back almost defiantly, “I’ll make a difference for this one!” And then he threw the starfish he had in his hand as far as he could back out into the surf.

As I said, God brought peace to my mind tonight so much so that I had to get out of bed and share with you in the hope it speaks to you as it did to me. Nobody can help everybody but everybody can help somebody in life. That is the message of the Good Samaritan. God didn’t call you or me to reach the world, but every day He provides each of us an opportunity to reach one. That was so freeing for me and I pray it is for you. The story of the Good Samaritan convicts me because I tend to try to do a little for a lot of people instead of following Jesus example in stories like this where the Good Samaritan did just the opposite. He did a lot for just one person. He saw this mans healing through to the end. The Good Samaritan didn’t offer a little help so as to feel better about himself. The Good Samaritan gave a lot sothe man he helped could get made well. That’s exactly what Jesus did for you and me! When this world robbed us and beat us up and left us for dead Jesus came along and paid the ultimate price so we could be made well. Like Jesus, the Good Samaritan showed compassion, he demonstrated care, concern and he went the extra mile you might say in committing to the injured man's healing. In other words, he didn’t put a time limit on his help. He simply loved his neighbor as himself and did what he would hope any good neighbor would do if it was him who fell among thieves and was robbed, beaten and left for dead.

When the lawyer asked, “who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered with the story of the Good Samaritan. You might be thinking today, “Who is my neighbor?” Our neighbor that Jesus is teaching us about isn’t necessarily the people who live on either side of us. Jesus took it way further than that. Our neighbor is anyone we come in contact in our travels who has a need. The question I will be asking myself from now on isn’t am I willing to get involved and help people in need as I already try to do that. The question I will focus on honestly answering when I come upon a person in need is, “Am I willing to love this person as I love myself. Will I seek to see their care all the way through until they are healed just like I would hope someone would care for me if I was in a similar situation?” From now on my focus isn’t going to be on trying to reach many, just the one the Lord places on my path. Just one at a time, one day at a time as the Lord leads in His perfect timing. Please pray for me, I will be praying for you!

“Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’”

Matthew 25:45


Michael Osthimer





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