“One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?” The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” – Luke 10:25-27.
Several verses before the parable of the good Samaritan, Luke 10:25 tells us, “One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” We are told this man is an expert in religious law. And despite how this and other religious leaders and scholars come across in the Bible, there is nothing wrong with knowledge. But knowledge is not the end game. Knowledge is learned; wisdom is given. Knowledge comes by looking around; wisdom comes by looking up. Knowledge comes from study; wisdom is the way to apply your knowledge. You see, a man can have knowledge, but to understand and to apply—he needs wisdom.
In the good Samaritan parable we see both theory and the practical application of theory. We have to be careful that Biblical study is not just theory and detached from real life as seemed to be the case with the lawyer. Jesus would not allow him to deal with the truth of God’s Word in a test tube. Jesus would not define the term “neighbor” in scholastic terms, but defined it by telling a story. Jesus challenges us to ask ourselves whether or not we are good neighbors to those in need. God does not want us to give Him a textbook definition of loving our neighbor; He wants us to demonstrate love for our neighbor in the real world, by showing compassion to one in need, as was the case with the good Samaritan.
Application of our knowledge is so important. If we don’t apply it, the Bible becomes nothing more than an impractical collection of old manuscripts. That’s why Paul says, “Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9).
The first step toward applying God’s Word in our lives is reading it. Our goal in reading is to get to know God, to learn His ways, and to understand His purpose for this world and for us individually. In reading the Bible, we learn about God’s interactions with humanity throughout history, His plan of redemption, His promises, and His character. We see what the Christian life looks like. The knowledge we gain from Scripture serves as an invaluable foundation for applying the Bible’s principles to our life.
So let’s apply what we know in loving our neighbors as ourselves and make compassion a way of life.
- What does the parable of the good Samaritan tell us about how to love your neighbor?
- Some say the opposite of love is “indifference” instead of “hate.” Do you agree or disagree? Why?
- What’s one change you can make in your life to put more loving your neighbor into action?