My Neighbour

“A certain Samaritan … had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds” Luke 10:33,34

Now we must not conclude that the half-heathen Samaritans were better as a class than the highly-favoured Jews. Our Lord uses a Samaritan in His parable because He wants to impress the law of love. No matter who the sufferer is that we come upon in any of life’s paths, he is our neighbour. He may be a very worthless sort of man; but no matter, he is our neighbour. As we look closely at him, we may see that he is an enemy. Once he did us a bitter, cruel wrong, and he has no claim whatever on us for sympathy or for help; but no matter, he is our neighbour. The person of the human race that we find suffering or in need of any kind becomes for the time our neighbour, — the one neighbour to whom for the present we owe love.

There is more definition here: we learn what the word “love” means. You say, “I can’t love hateful people; I can’t love criminals; I can’t love a poor tramp.” Nobody expects you to love such people as you love your wife, your child, your friend. It is not likely that this Samaritan had a tender affection for this wounded Jew while he was helping him. Samaritans were not in the habit of loving Jews very deeply. But he did not look at the man and calculate whether he loved him or not before he began to attend to his wounds. Yet he loved him precisely as the commandment meant he should love him. His love was not a warm emotion; it was a very practical affection.

First it was pity: he had compassion on him. But pity is sometimes a very useless emotion, — merely a tear that comes easily, and costs nothing. This good wayfarer had more than a tear. His pity got into his hands and into his pocket. He went to the man and bound up his wounds and helped him to an inn, and gave attention to him until he was restored.