And behold a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?”
So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.'”
And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”
But he, wanting to justify himself said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
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. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 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. 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.’ So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”
And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” ~ Luke 10:25-37
I have read this parable many times, understanding that Jesus wants us to act as a modern Good Samaritan – buying McDonalds for the homeless man standing on the corner; sponsoring a child in a third world country; volunteering at the local soup kitchen, etc. When done with the right heart, these are all ways to love your neighbor. However, when I was reading this parable a few days ago God quietly reminded me of something I had forgotten: we are expected to love our neighbor doing small things too, not just the big.
The Good Samaritan obviously did a big neighborly deed, to a complete stranger, nonetheless; but let us not forget that small acts of kindness show love to our neighbors as well. Wave to your next door neighbor when you see her over the fence. Don’t rush into the house in hopes of avoiding conversation. Say hi to your friend walking down the other side of the church hallway. Don’t avoid eye contact so you can get all the kids into the car quickly. Let the gentleman with only a few groceries go ahead of you in the check out line. Does it really matter if you get out of there a few minutes sooner? Smile to strangers. Say pleas and thank you. Show grace. Love.