Can't Help Myself
Self-help books are perennially some of the bestselling books. In the self-help section of your favorite bookseller, you will find books to help you be a better friend, spouse, student, mechanic, financial planner, or even video game player. If there is some facet of your life you would like to improve, chances are very high there is a book published to help you help yourself to be better.
It is within the context of self-help we read the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. A lawyer, who was an expert in the religious Law of ancient Israel, wanted to know from Jesus how a person could be good enough to have eternal life. Put another way; the lawyer wanted to know how he could improve his life so he would be good enough to go to heaven. He knew he was supposed to love his neighbor but wasn’t exactly sure who would be considered a neighbor. The rules weren’t at all clear in the lawyer’s mind.
Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan to explain to the lawyer the trick isn’t knowing who a neighbor is; instead, the point is to BE a neighbor. Jesus doesn’t say why in the parable, but we can discern it quickly enough when we understand Jesus’ work to save the lost by going to the cross: We should want to be a neighbor because Jesus was a loving neighbor to us first.
Think about the man in the parable who was robbed and left for dead. How useful would a self-help book be to him? Even if there was a volume titled, “How To Survive a Near Death Mugging While Traveling a Dangerous Road To Jericho,” it would have been useless to him. He was unconscious and dying of his wounds. He didn’t need self-help; he needed a neighbor’s help.
Jesus was a helpful neighbor for us. Dead in our sins, He didn’t ask us to figure out how to be better. Instead, He was our neighbor who cleansed our wounds, not with wine and oil, but with His healing blood. He paid the price for our healing, not with a few coins on deposit with an innkeeper, but with His own broken body buried in a tomb. He gave us what we needed to be cared for until His return, not with a request to the innkeeper, but the indwelling power of His Spirit.
So often, we fall into the trap of thinking that the Christian life is a self-improvement project. However, when we understand where we fit in the parable of the Good Samaritan – as the one who needs a neighbor to help – we discover the Christian life is learning to trust Jesus is our neighbor who helps because we can’t help ourselves.
Has Jesus bandaged your wounds, pouring on grace and mercy?
Has Jesus carried you in His strong arms, when all strength was gone?
Has Jesus filled you with power from His Holy Spirit?
Has Jesus given you the strength to wait for His soon return?
Then Jesus has given you the power to be a neighbor to others. He calls us to join Him in the beautiful work of service to those how need healing. Who do you know needs encouragement? Who needs to hear of God’s forgiveness? Who needs to experience grace from you?
Jesus was a neighbor to us on the cross. His closing words of the parable are striking, “You go, and do likewise.”
I look forward to being with you this Sunday as we celebrate the work of God in Jesus Christ together! This Sunday, we will be seeking God through His Word in Luke 10:25-37.
See you Sunday,