I love this verse from Stuart Townend’s song “How Deep the Father’s Love for us”

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

If you have been a Christian for many years, it is easy to forget what a wretch you were. If you continue to walk close to the Lord, you will be mindful of that wretchedness. It is the walk of a wretched man saved by Jesus that is best suited to being a “Good Samaritan”. If you think you are something for God; if you walk around thinking that God is sure glad He got you, you will not be a Good Samaritan. Oh, sure, you love yourself, but you love yourself too much to ever reach out to the wretches living around you. The love you have for yourself is blinding you from seeing the needs of other wretches around you.

A Good Samaritan has no “walls” when it comes to the needs of his neighbors. A good samaritan is not afraid to get close to other “wretches” to see what their needs are. He sees no color, no race, no status, no religion. He sees the forsaken, the diseased, the impoverished, the disabled, the alone, the abandoned, the damaged. He not only looks close, but he does what he can to meet the needs of the “wretched”. Everything he has is Gods, and he holds nothing back from God or his neighbors.

The Good Samaritan does not go around boasting of what he does. You see, he is simply one wretch helping another wretch.

A person who is a living, walking, Good Samaritan reveals what is in his heart.

The Heart of a Good Samaritan reveals two things:

1. Our love for God and His Son Jesus Christ

2. Our love for people, the people that Jesus died on the cross to redeem the other “wretches”

  • These people were ugly, hateful, sinful, vile, sin-sick, hopeless, rebellious
  • But Jesus loved them, died for them
  • These people were you and me.

In effect, being a Good Samaritan unites us with the heart of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the ultimate Good Samaritan. He gave his all for our sake, the wounded, the captured, the bruised, the broken, the forsaken.

Satan and Sin had us in an eternal death grip, but Jesus Christ came to our side and freed us from the death grip of sin. He was our personal Good Samaritan.

The question I want to answer today: How do we continue our comittment to being Good Samaritans?

Now, I know that you do not normally think of yourself as being selfish, uncaring and unconcerned. Certainly the lawyer who asked Jesus the question “Who is my neighbor?” did not see himself as that way. He thought he was a model Jew, the best of the best. However, Jesus cut to the very depth of his soul by revealing his bias toward the Samaritans. He challenged him to see everyone, regardless of his or her religion or culture as his neighbor, worthy of his love.

Face it; it is easy to overlook certain people. It is easy to judge, condemn, and even isolate ourselves from certain people. However, Jesus challenges us to know that there is not one person on this earth that is not worthy of our love. Jesus wants us to know that He died for everyone, no matter how vile they are, or regardless of their religion or culture. We are not special. We are not better than anyone else is. They are our neighbor and needing our love because such were we! What is more, because of our busy and isolated lives, we lose sight of the needs of people who don’t live by us, or who are in neighborhoods we do not go to.

Practical Advice about Trip Hazards

Before we look at Scripture and see what can trip us up, I want to offer some practical advice for any Good Samaritan.

One problem facing many of us Baby Boomers in the troubled times we are in, is caring for our elderly parents, caring for a son or daughter out of work, caring for a spouse with a debilitating medical condition. Many find themselves in a Caregiver Role. To be a Caregiver is to provide financial, relational, physical, spiritual, or emotional support to someone who is unable to live independently like:

  • newborns or small children
  • those recovering from an injury or illness
  • aging loved ones
  • anyone facing a terminal illness
  • those who are disabled in some way (physically, mentally, emotionally)

This just about covers parents and people from all lifestyles and all ages, so it probably affects you or someone you care about. There are dangers involved in being a Caregiver or a ‘good Samaritan.’ One of those dangers is in the form of overwhelming stress or an overwhelming sense of helplessness.

There are CARETAKERS and there are CAREGIVERS.

A caretaker provides a level of compassionate service for someone in need. It is not usually overwhelming enough to create compassion fatigue or massive distress because there are clear boundaries, defined duties, and reasonable expectations, as well as defined hours of service.

Caregivers do the same work, but often with greater intensity, since they often aren’t compensated in some way and just work out of the goodness of their hearts to show compassion to the person in need. They often give and give expecting nothing in return, yet that is often why they run out of energy and burnout. They do not have defined hours, schedules, or budgets. It can get very stressful, very fast because they cannot do everything for everyone all the time without it leading to caregiver stress.

The Caregiver Stress Checklist

  • Am I easily agitated with those I love?
  • Am I becoming more critical of others?
  • Am I having difficulty laughing or having fun?
  • Am I turning down most invitations to be with others?
  • Am I feeling depressed about my situation?
  • Am I feeling hurt when my efforts go unnoticed?
  • Am I resentful when other family members are not helping?
  • Am I feeling trapped by all the responsibilities?
  • Am I being manipulated?
  • Am I missing sleep and regular exercise?
  • Am I too busy for quiet time with God?
  • Am I feeling guilty when I take time for myself?

Warning Signs of Caregiver Stress:

  • Physically – exhausted and worn out
  • Emotionally – resentful, stressed, bitter
  • Relationally – feeling used or unappreciated
  • Financially – overwhelmed or depleted

It is right to care for people in need. It is healthy to show compassion. Those are good things and make us feel better for having made a difference in the lives of others. You can show care in many ways and should. Caring is important, but there are some hidden dangers if you do not realize a simple truth.

TEAM GOOD SAMARITAN

The Parable of the Good Samaritan is a timeless story of being a compassionate caregiver.

We should not miss the truth of how to protect the Good Samaritan from compassion fatigue.

Yes, he jumped in to help a stranger, and, yes, he showed great love for another human being, but he did not do it alone! The Good Samaritan started a healing process in the life of a wounded man and allowed others, like the innkeeper, to be part of the team to make a positive difference in helping a man rebuild and recover. When you are part of a team helping someone going through a crisis, you are less likely to burnout. And that’s a good thing for everyone so you can have a lot more energy to help others for years to come.[1]

If we are to love our neighbors, and not suffer from burnout, or compassion fatigue, we must be part of a team. We must discover that there is help from a higher power!

For the heartsick, bleeding soul out there today who is desperate for a word of encouragement, let me assure you that you can trust this Lord of heaven and earth. There is security and rest in the wisdom of the eternal Scriptures. I believe the Lord can be trusted, even when He cannot be tracked. Of this you can be certain: Jehovah, King of kings and Lord of lords, is not pacing the corridors of heaven in confusion over the problems in your life!  He hung the worlds in space. He can handle the burdens that have weighed you down, and He cares about you deeply. He says to you, “Be still, and know that I am God”. Psalms 46:10   — James Dobson, Ph.D.[2]

GO TO THE THRONE

To be a Good Samaritan means that you memorize and take to heart Hebrews 4:14-16

14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

We often think this verse applies to when we are being tempted. And that is a strong part of it, but the truth is that the weaknesses spoken about refers to illness, physical exhaustion, lack of strength, any condition of weakness that could lead us to lose heart, give up, have a breakdown, get hard hearted, get calloused, disillusioned. In other words, Jesus sympathizes with those conditions that could lead us to give up being a Good Samaritan, to give up following Him, to give up loving our neighbor.

We need to be a part of His team, we need to come boldly to the throne of grace, not only for help and strength for us, but for the ones we are caring for.

Mother’s, when you don’t think you can take care of an aging mom any more, when you have had your heart broken by a wayward son or daughter, when you are about to give up caring, go to the throne, go to the one who has been there, and realize His strength is yours, His grace and mercy are overflowing for those in need, exactly at the time you need it most!

What Will Trip Us Up?

What Keeps us from the throne? What will cause us to stumble and stop being a Good Samaritan?

There are four major reasons that we may stumble and fall, which will keep us from the throne of Grace.

These are found in verses preceding of Hebrews 4:14

1 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2 For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. 3 For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’ ” although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” 5 And again in this passage he said, “They shall not enter my rest.” 6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. 9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. 11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:1-13

FOUR TRIP HAZARDS

  1. Faith Connection (Weak or non-existent)
  2. Disobedience (Idolatry, Iniquity and Immorality)
  3. Bitterness (Hard Heart leading to no ability to sympathize)
  4. Grumbling- (Temporal Focus because of a messed up heart!)

1.  Faith Connection

  • Verse 2: For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.

Even though they had witnessed miraculous acts, God was still invisible to the wandering Jews. Whatever their thinking about who this invisible “I AM” was, it did not settle into their heart.

If you are going to continue to be a Good Samaritan, you have to have a daily faith connection to this awesome God, “the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. 1 Timothy 6:15

For anyone who desires to please God must believe that He is. Not only on Sunday, but you need a faith connection every day of the week.

Faith is a solid, substantiating force that sustains us during good times, bad times, and difficult times. Satan delights in getting you to doubt God, to ignore God, to resent God. Satan tries to sever your faith connection every day!

You faith connection will allow you to see God in the midst of the storm, in the midst of your exhaustion, in the midst of your struggles, in the midst of your frustrations.

This Christian walk is by faith and not sight, and as soon as you lose faith, or weaken in faith, you will stumble from being a Good Samaritan.

Genuine Love for you hurting and weak neighbors comes from your faith in our Loving God!

2.  Disobedience (Idolatry, Iniquity and Immorality)

  • Verse 6: “and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience”
  • 1 Cor 10:7-8 – Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day.

The Wilderness Jews had a problem with idolatry. They put other things before God. Their broken faith connection did not allow them to see God in their everyday lives. So when Moses was gone for 40 days, they got nervous and afraid, and made their own god to worship. They disobeyed keeping the law, they disobeyed Moses, they lusted after things rather than desiring God.

Their disobedience grew from having a small god and large appetites for themselves. They put themselves before God.

It is good to do a heart check every so often. What are you desiring, what are you obsessing over?

When we take our eyes and our hearts off the desires of God, and put them on what we want or what we think we need, then we will stumble from being a Good Samaritan. We will take our eyes and our hearts off our neighbors.

Are you having conflicts in your marriage, in your relationships? Do a heart check! Perhaps you are putting your desires ahead of the other person. You may think you are right, but try humbling yourself before God, and then seeking Him until His desires become your desires in that situation.

Too many times conflict is caused and sustained by our selfishness and by putting things before our relationships.

3.  Bitterness (Hard Heart leading to inability to sympathize)

  • Verse 7: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts”.
  • 1 Cor 10:9 – We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents,

When we lose our faith connection, when we start putting our desires before God, it will not be too long before something happens in your life that causes you great hurt, great resentment, great anger. The Jews were upset over the desert, the food, the leader. They were angry, upset, and bitter. This bitterness led to hearts that were hard and insensitive to God.

You may have experienced this yourself.

You lost something/someone very dear to you, a son, a daughter, a wife. Or it could be an important job, a friendship. Children get bitter when they are forced to move, when divorce splits the home. Sickness, disease, an accident…anything that happens that directly affects our comfort, our life, our control. When life seems out of control, when our heart is broken, when we get angry, when we question what is going on…there is a temptation to lash out, get resentful, and the bitterness grows.

We must not put Christ to the test

Sinners are said to tempt God (Matt. 4:7; Luke 4:12; 10:25; Acts 5:9, peirázō; 1 Cor. 10:9), putting Him to the test, refusing to believe Him or His Word until He has manifested His power (Sept.: Deut. 6:16; 8:16; Ps. 78:18). When God is said to try (peirazō) man (Heb. 11:17 [cf. Gen. 22:1; Ex. 15:25]), in no other sense can He do this (James 1:13) but to train in order to elevate a person as a result of the self-knowledge which may be won through these testings (peirasmoí <G3986>). Thus, man may emerge from his testings holier, humbler, stronger than when he entered in (James 1:2, 12). [3]

I have known people who were so excited about serving God, who were so in love with Jesus, and because of some tragedy or some loss, have lost that love, that enthusiasm. They test Christ by saying, “if you love me, then you will make this right!” They believe that Jesus owes them and they get upset with Him when things don’t work out the way they think they should. What joy it is to know mature saints who have grown sweeter with the years, who have faced sorrows and heartaches yet their heart is still tender to God, still tender to the needs of those around them

We have a great friend of the family in Swann Bates. She is in he eighties now, and I had not seen her since my mom died in 1996. I had always admired her love for Jesus, her love for the word. She was one of those ‘refreshing’ saints that lifted everyone she met. I knew they had had some financial setbacks late in life, and i wondered how she would be when I went over to her place last Christmas. She was exactly as I remembered her, bubbly, in love with Jesus, refreshing, concerned about me and my family. She had grown sweeter with the years. A couple months ago she lost her daughter, Donna, to breast cancer. I called her up and left a message of consolation. She called me later, and instead of being down, expressed to me her praise for the Lord, her praise for the love of Christ. I could sense the tears, but her love for Jesus came through strong and loud.

I want to be a Mrs. Bates if I make it into my eighties! Don’t you? Praise God for the power of Jesus to make us sweeter through all this life brings us!

If you hear of someone’s need, or see someone hurting, and the Holy Spirit can’t tug at your heart, perhaps there is some bitterness that is spoiling your love.

Bitterness can ruin relationships, especially between a husband and wife, can ruin friendships, and can ruin your enthusiasm for worship, for serving in your church. It will harden your heart to the point where your love for your neighbor is gone, and all that is left is a huge fence.

It is hard putting your heart out there for anyone to step on it. It is hard serving people who are not grateful, who don’t seem to do anything for themselves, or who just seem to be milking the system. It is easy to say it does not do any good, but remember, Jesus Christ died for that person. Jesus Christ died for you. He put His heart out there for everyone to spit upon to beat to mock, and yet He still loved us, still suffered that horrible experience of the wrath of God being poured out on Him.

How is your heart? Is it as tender as when you were in school? Do you still care about the needs of those around you? Or is your heart crusted over, hardened by bitterness and unfulfilled expectations, hurts and losses. Any hurt, any loss pales in comparison with what Jesus Christ experienced for you.

4.  Grumbling- (Temporal Focus because of a messed up heart!)

  • Verse 13: And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account
  • 1 Cor 10: 10 “nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer”.
  • And the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes, and when the Lord heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. Numbers 11:1
  • Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves.   John 6:43

When we lose our faith connection, when we lose our desire for God, when our heart becomes hard, it isn’t long before our attitude is affected. You can always tell when someone has a problem with God when they start grumbling.

It can be a little thing, but in my experience, grumblers never stop with little things (like the weather). Grumbling reveals that some things are not right in your heart. In addition, if your heart is not right, the grumbling will come out louder and with greater intensity.

I am not saying that all grumbling is bad. However, I am saying that God hates grumblers, because grumblers are not being thankful for Him!

“How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against me. Numbers 14:27

DOES THIS SONG DESCRIBE ANYONE YOU KNOW?

The Grumble Song by Thoro Harris

In country, town, or city
Some people can be found
Who spend their lives in grumbling
At everything around
Oh yes, they always grumble
No matter what we say
For these are chronic grumblers
And they grumble night and day.
Chorus:
Oh, they grumble on Monday,
Tuesday, Wednesday,
Grumble on Thursday, too
Grumble on Friday, Saturday, Sunday,
Grumble the whole week through.
They grumble in the city
They grumble on the farm
They grumble at their neighbors
They think it is no harm;
They grumble at their husbands,
They grumble at their wives
They grumble at their children
But the grumbler never thrives.
They grumble when it’s raining
They grumble when it’s dry
And if the crops are failing
They grumble and they sigh
They grumble at low prices
And grumble when they’re high
They grumble all the year round
And they grumble till they die.
They grumble at the preacher
They grumble at his prayer
They grumble at his preaching
They grumble everywhere;
They grumble at God’s people
And say ’tis all display
But holy folks don’t grumble
They have only time to pray.
If you don’t quit your grumbling
And stop it now and here
You’ll never get to heaven
No grumblers enter there;
Repent and be converted
Be saved from all your sin
You know that grumbling Christians
Find it hard a crown to win.

Being a Good Samaritan can be difficult. Never do it on your own. Realize it is TEAM GOOD SAMARITAN THAT WILL ENDURE.

Come daily to the throne of grace, there you will find a loving Savior who sympathizes with everything you are trying to do, with everything you are going through. He wants to join His heart and strength with yours in meeting the needs of your neighbors. He offers His grace and strength at just the right time.

  • We need to give Him our hearts daily
  • We need to follow Him daily
  • We need to rejoice and be thankful daily

JESUS is our example. He is our Good Samaritan.

If we lose our faith connection, if we start going our own way, if our hearts get hard through bitterness, if we start to grumble because we have taken our eyes off Jesus and started looking at circumstances instead of Him, then we will give up being a good Samaritan, we will lose our love for our neighbors, we will build walls around our lives, and we will become a grumbler.

And like the Jews in the wilderness, we will lose our way and be overcome in the wilderness.

Do you love Jesus?

Do you love Jesus?

Do you Love Jesus?

Then feed HIS lambs! Jesus says, “Feed My lambs.” Jesus wants us to take care of HIS lambs. And for us to do that, we must be connected to Him by love. His heart must be our heart!

The Lord would answer, “Ah, Peter, and I love you”; but He did not say so, and yet He did say so. Perhaps Peter did not see His meaning; but we can see it, for our minds are not confused as Peter’s was on that memorable morning. Jesus did in effect say, “I love you so that I trust you with that which I purchased with My heart’s blood. The dearest thing I have in all the world is My flock: see, Simon, I have such confidence in you, I so wholly rely on your integrity as being a sincere lover of Me, that I make you a shepherd to My sheep. These are all I have on earth, I gave everything for them, even My life; and now, Simon, son of Jonas, take care of them for Me.” Oh, it was “kindly spoken.” It was the great heart of Christ saying, “Poor Peter, come right in and share My dearest cares.”[4]


[2] Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group, http://www.LifeWorksGroup.org eNews (Copyright, 2004-2008, by the LifeWorks Group in Florida. 407-647-7005).

[3] Complete Word Study Dictionary, The New Testament.

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