The Open Ended Side of Compassion
In Luke 10 we have the parable of the Good Samaritan, told by Jesus in response to a man who is attempting to “bracket” exactly how he should do the “love your neighbor as yourself” thing. If you are not familiar with the parable I encourage you to take the time to read it. It has several different meanings for us. The one that strikes me the most today flows out of these words by the Samaritan who stopped to help the wounded man: 35 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 the good Samaritan has taken the wounded man to an inn and given an open ended commitment to the innkeeper to do whatever it takes to take care of the man. He gave him a little bit of money, which was a sacrifice, but then he left himself open and liable for other expenses that would be necessary. The phrase “whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you” is an open-ended commitment.
This is a difficult example to follow at times isn’t it? There are people in our lives that we may feel that God has called us to help and yet to what level? Our desire is usually to bracket that help…to give only so much money or time or emotional energy…but here the commitment is unconditional. How do we know when we are to do this? How do we respond when we are being taken advantage of? How do we know when we are being taken advantage of? Does it even matter if we are being taken advantage of? These are all good questions to ask and I believe we need to lean hard into God to listen for His answers. If there is someone in your life that you feel called to fill the role of the Good Samaritan, seek God’s direction on how you fulfill that role.