In Luke 10:29-37 we read the familiar parable of the Good Samaritan. The parable was told by Jesus in response to a question He was asked by a certain lawyer (Verse 25). Having received Jesus’ commendation for correctly reciting the greatest commandment as being “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself,” apparently the lawyer was a bit uneasy about the second part—the “love your neighbor” part.
And so he sought to “justify himself” by asking Jesus to clarify who, exactly, his neighbor was (Verse 29); “And who is my neighbor?” he asked.
Do you understand his question? Without actually coming out and saying it in so many words, he was asking Jesus who he was supposed to love. And, by deduction, who he was exempted from having to love.
And now notice the subtle, but significant, changing of the table setting in how Jesus responded to the lawyer. Jesus tells a story of a certain man who fell among robbers while going down the road from Jerusalem to Jericho and who was left for dead. Both a priest and a Levite (religious men) saw the injured man. But without so much as a good word or a good deed, both passed by the man on either side. Then a Samaritan (Samaritans were hated by Jews) came upon the man. And he “saw him” and “felt compassion” for him. In other words, he noticed him with compassion. He took care of his wounds, brought him to safety, and at cost to himself he assured the man’s recovery.
After telling the story, Jesus posed a question of His own for the lawyer: “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” (Verse 36)
Did you notice how Jesus changed the subject? Instead of qualifying for the lawyer who his neighbor was—who was worthy of his love or convenient for him to love—he challenged the lawyer to consider what kind of neighbor he was.
As we practice noticing others we are really training ourselves in the kind of persons we are to become. Loving others will come easier if we are devote ourselves to become loving persons. Caring for others will come easier if we devote ourselves to become caring persons. Noticing others will come easier if we devote ourselves become the kind of persons who notice others.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, may your thoughts be my thoughts. May your love be my love. May your will be my will. May your wisdom be my wisdom. May your words be my words. May your deeds by my deeds. That I would be as your presence with others.