In that parable He describes an injured man lying helplessly on a well-traveled road.
At different times two people—both of them religious figures—pass by the injured man and fail to stop to help him. "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'" (Luke 10:33-35).
Jesus gave this parable in response to someone who had asked Him, "And who is my neighbor?" After giving the parable, Jesus asked, "'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 10:36-37).
Is a sincere interest in caring for and serving others essential to the godly way of life?
"Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free" (Ephesians 6:7-8, NIV).
"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world" (James 1:27; compare Matthew 20:25-28).
Jesus did not condemn receiving. But He stressed that a better blessing will come from giving than from receiving (Acts 20:35).
Notice these statements of Jesus to His disciples: "Freely you have received, freely give" (Matthew 10:8). "And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward" (Matthew 10:42). "Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods" (Matthew 24:45-47).
Giving and serving are simply putting God's love into practice. Paul wrote: "For you, brethren, have been called to liberty [from being slaves to sin; Romans 6:20-22]; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another" (Galatians 5:13).
Should our concern for others include those who dislike us?
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:43-45).
Where does God reveal to us how to love others?"For the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not murder,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not bear false witness,' 'You shall not covet,' and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'" (Romans 13:9).
God's commandments—His laws—define and explain love. By developing a deep desire to be a blessing to others—whether they love us or not—our understanding and appreciation for God's commandments and laws will grow immensely "because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit ..." (Romans 5:5).