On a trip through the grocery store while I was eight months pregnant with my youngest, I saw a very unusual scene in the store. I was near the meat coolers and there was an elderly man leaning against the cooler and slowly sliding down. With my grocery cart, I waddled up to him as fast as I could and asked him, "Sir, are you okay?" He couldn't answer coherently and continued to slide down. Realizing that he could be having a stroke, I began to think how I could keep him from hitting his head if he continued to fall. Since I was eight months pregnant and having pain from a hernia I decided to wedge my shopping cart between myself and him. I continued to try to get a coherent answer from him to no avail. For some reason, the store was nearly empty, so we stayed in this predicament for several minutes before another man came by. Beginning to feel a little panicked, I yelled out, "Excuse me sir! Can you help?" He looked at the man, shrugged his shoulders and said, "I already tried," and he walked away. Already tried?! What did that mean? Finally, the store manager saw what was happening ran over and helped. Please read Luke 10:25-37.
"The one who had mercy on him." Do those words resonate in your heart? When we are commanded to love our neighbor, mercy is a part of the picture. It doesn't matter what race, gender, age, religion, or sexual preference our neighbor has, we are to have mercy! Mercy doesn't look at those things, mercy takes action. Think back to my story that I started with; perhaps that man attempted to talk to the man and became frustrated when he wouldn't answer. I think that is sometimes how it can seem when we open our eyes to the needs in the world. It can seem overwhelming; we give our money to a good cause and shake our heads when poverty isn't fixed and say, "I already tried." In this story, the Samaritan kept working on this man by taking him to safety. Homelessness in America is not going to just disappear by one attempt; it takes time and effort to reach out to the homeless. It takes effort to figure out the roots of why the person is homeless; it really can be overwhelming! But God doesn't want us to give up. He doesn't want us to give up on the hopeless poverty in the world. As a whole, the church really can make a difference and show God's mercy to the world. I feel convicted when I remember how easy it is to give up.
Who is your neighbor?