Humility, selflessness make for powerful personal story

Jesus loved stories. In fact, we’re told that he loved to teach by using stories called parables.

One of the most popular stories is that of “The Good Samaritan.” As the story goes, a lawyer came up to Jesus one day and asked him, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25).

Jesus quickly replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27).

This lawyer then decided to ask a follow-up question. After all, he is a lawyer. “Who is my neighbor?” he asked Jesus (Luke 10:29). And this is where the story gets interesting.

It’s here that Jesus goes on to tell this lawyer about a man who was traveling on a dangerous road. All of a sudden robbers appeared and stripped this man of his clothes, beat him and left him for dead. A priest then walks by but doesn’t stop to help him. This priest actually passes by on the opposite side of the road. Another religious leader walks by and sees the man, and he too passes by on the other side.

We have no idea what these two guys were thinking. Maybe they were thinking what we often think: “I’m too busy, I have places to be and people to see.” But what happens next defies logic.

Another man passes by. This man was the sworn enemy of the man lying on the ground. And what does he do? In telling the story, Jesus says that this enemy took pity on him, went to him and bandaged his wounds. If that was not enough, he then put this man on his donkey (meaning he would have to walk) and took him to an inn to take care of him. He paid all the expenses and told the manager of the inn that if there were any more expenses, he’d pay for those too.

Now let me ask you, who does that? Who does that for their friends, let alone their enemies? And Jesus simply asks this lawyer, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” (Luke 10:36).

The lawyer replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Now, that was the easy part of the story. It’s one thing to answer a simple question about a story or truth we’ve heard. But where the rubber meets the road is in what Jesus says next.

Jesus told this lawyer, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37). Ouch.

When I was growing up, in our church, there used to be what was called “Testimony Time.” This is when people would get up and essentially share stories of what God was doing in their lives. For me, the most powerful stories were the ones never told, when later, you would hear how someone who was humble did something for someone else you would never have expected. And these people would rarely stand up to share this, not wanting to shine the spotlight on themselves.

I think it’s these people, the one’s we may never hear from or about, that just might be the real heroes in life — the ones who do the right things, the right way, for the right reasons. Not for personal glory, but to demonstrate what it really means to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

You have a story. You are actually writing your story each and every day. What is it telling? Do you want your story to count? Then do something for someone else. Do something for someone no one else would expect.

Don’t just get mad about how things are going in the world. Be part of the solution. Do something this week to love someone else.

It will change their story and yours.

Brad LeRoy is lead pastor at Harvest Church in Mt. Comfort. This weekly column is written by local clergy members.