January 24: Parable of Providential Help

Read Luke 10:25-37

Who qualifies for help? Most assistance programs have parameters that determine whether an applicant is eligible for the food, money, or health care being offered. Given the limited resources, volume of applicants, and the non-relational approach, I suppose such criterions are essential.

But what if the help comes from a person and not a program? Now who qualifies? That is the question posed by the lawyer that set up this familiar parable. Who is the neighbor I am to love? But, did you notice? The lawyer already had his own list of qualifiers in mind. He had made decisions in the past about those to love and those to ignore. He had passed by some and helped others. You see, he wanted to “justify himself.” He was hoping that the list of criterion Jesus gave would be a mirror image of his own. He  wanted Jesus to understand and accept the rationale behind his list, a list that likely included things like a good reputation and growing up on the right side of the tracks.

Jesus didn’t really answer the man’s question in the parable. In His story, Jesus didn’t really describe the person. He was just “a man.” Oh, yes, we know that this man was beaten, naked, and half-dead. Meanwhile, we don’t know his background. We aren’t told his nationality. Jesus didn’t describe his reputation. His political leanings were not described. Did he have tattoos? Short hair? Was he a senior citizen or a senior in high school? We just don’t know. Apparently, that information is unimportant. Perhaps part of the message is that every person in need is a neighbor to love. Perhaps part of the message is that every person must be willing to enter into a providential, divinely arranged relationship as one who offers what he/she has.

Instead of describing the man who was worthy of help, Jesus describes three people who had opportunity to help. Two of them passed by. Was it because of their busy schedule? Was it because helping would complicate their lives? Did their list of qualifiers dictate that the man was unworthy of help? We aren’t sure of their reasoning, but the point Jesus was making was clear. Be the person who lovingly helps! Rather than asking, “Who qualifies for my help?” we must ask, “What keeps me from helping?” How can you be used of God in a providential relationship today?


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