Good Samaritan

I didn’t see her fall. But there she was on the cold snowy street. On all fours. Strangers ran over to offer help. Even with kind hands supporting her, she was struggling to get up. A young man lay his coat on the ground to give her traction. Yet she was only able to crawl over to the sidewalk. Once she made her way to the brick building, she was able to pull herself up into a standing position. She leaned against the cold wall for a minute to regain her composure. Embarrassed and humiliated, she stood and collected herself before moving on. I wasn’t sure if she was alone, or if someone in the small crowd was accompanying her on her errands.

 She was of an older age. White hair. Slow gait. Youth had passed her by. She appeared to struggle with bodily movements that the young take for granted. She carried a small black handbag. I never saw her face. Was she confused or disoriented? Was she anxious because of the winter weather? I don’t know if her mental faculties were in place. She needed help whether she wanted it or not. And several strangers rushed to her side.

It was a reminder to me that there are plenty of kind people in this world. There are good samaritans who will step up and help a stranger in need. Not necessarily wanting to be obvious about their good deed, but lending a hand when it is called for.

I asked myself. If I had seen her first, would I have rushed to offer a helping hand? Would I have shown kindness? Or would I have been a silent sidewalk gawker, hoping someone else would step forward?  

That same day, a friend had asked me to hold her accountable if she was acting in an unkind way. She said that as close friends we need that accountability, and she expected me to speak up if I saw something ungodly in her behavior. If only more of us would ask for accountability and then hold others to it when asked. This is another good samaritan act that is often overlooked and unwanted. Who of us wants to be told we’re acting in a shameful way? Who wants to be set straight? But kind words of correction and admonition can be set a wayward soul on the right path.

Love your neighbor as yourself. Leviticus 19:18

Someone else recently received a life changing diagnosis, followed by major surgery. The treatments that lie ahead would cause anyone to be anxious. And rightfully so. Friends brought food for the family. Acts of kindness were shown. Work schedules rearranged. Love continues to be poured into a family whose normal routine has turned upside down for the foreseeeable future. Random acts of kindness and words of encouragement are a blessing to the one in need.

I have to ask myself. Do I look for opportunities to help others? Not necessarily when their need is obvious. But when it’s a quiet gesture of support and encouragement? When it will be unknown and unnoticed by others? Do I still offer help?

There’s a story in the Bible about a man who asks Jesus how he can inherit eternal life. Jesus asks him if he has read the Scriptures. After all, the man asking the question is an expert in religious law. He has probably memorized most of the historic Scriptures. And he quoted the exact words that will give him eternal life. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself. And Jesus confirmed that he should live the words he just quoted. Then Jesus gave an example of what that lifestyle would look like.

To read the full story about the Good Samaritan, read Luke 10:25-37.

In the story of the Good Samaritan, the man who offered the help was a member of a hated group of people. They weren’t followers of the holy Scriptures. And the two men who offered no help were supposedly godly men. Shouldn’t each of us be willing to help someone in need? Our differences don’t have to separate us. We can reach across the divide to help a needy soul, regardless of their beliefs or lifestyle. Kindness never goes out of style.