In Luke 10, Jesus tells a story about a man who was attacked and left for dead on the side of the road. A priest saw the man and crossed the road to avoid him. Another person who worked in the Temple did the same thing. But, a Samaritan—who was despised by many Jewish people—saw the man and went to help him. It might be enough to help the wounded man up and make sure he was okay. But, this good Samaritan went above and beyond by caring for his wounds, taking him to an inn in the nearby town, and then leaving money for the innkeeper to continue to provide care. This Samaritan didn’t know the man when he came upon him, but he chose to love this unknown neighbor anyway.
We pass by people we don’t know every day. We’re often tempted to overlook the average person, because we don’t want to be inconvenienced, or we don’t think we can make a difference. In order to love the people we don’t know, we’ll need to pray daily and ask God for eyes to see people who need a touch from Him.
Here are a few practical ways to show love to people we don’t know:
Do one small thing. When you come across people, you have no idea what is happening in their lives. They may be having the best day, or they may have just received the worst news of their life. Maybe God allows us to notice the mom with misbehaving children at the store, or we notice a man who seems to have very little. A simple smile or a small gift from us could make their day.
Have eyes to see. We encounter so many people we don’t know each day—in stores, restaurants, at church, and a variety of other places. Even though we may not have a personal relationship with them, we can still love them as our neighbor. Showing kindness to strangers is a tremendous form of service.
There truly are countless ways to love the neighbors we don’t know. In fact, this may be one of the most truly genuine things we do, because if we don’t know people and we choose to love them practically, they’ll never be able to repay us. Maybe you pay for the coffee of the person in line behind you, donate blood that will benefit those who are chronically ill, or provide food for someone in another country. These simple acts are wonderful ways that we can love the people we don’t know.
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”Luke 10:25-37 NIV
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “‘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.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.Hebrews 13:1-2 NIV