Reflections: September 7, 2020
Monday of the 13th Week after Trinity
By Mark Buetow
Then the men who were designated by name rose up and took the captives, and from the spoil they clothed all who were naked among them, dressed them and gave them sandals, gave them food and drink, and anointed them; and they let all the feeble ones ride on donkeys. So they brought them to their brethren at Jericho, the city of palm trees. Then they returned to Samaria. (2 Chronicles 28:15)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. While it is true that Jesus is the Good Samaritan who rescues us, there is also a call to love our neighbor. Implicit in the young man's question to Jesus was the idea that there could be someone who you don't like who doesn't have to count as your neighbor. During some of the fighting in the Old Testament, some captives of Judah were helped by the very people who should have been their enemies: Israelites from Samaria. Why would they do such a thing?
Those who have been loved by Jesus in turn love others. He doesn't love us because we deserve it, because we earned His favor, or because He sees our potential. He loves us because He loves the world in this way: by obeying His Father and giving Himself into death to save sinners. To put it another way, Jesus loves you by saving you even though you don't deserve it!
That becomes an example for us. The Law is not teaching us to love others in order to justify ourselves, because we are trying to get on God's good side, or to avoid punishment. This isn't some transactional game where we do something to get something. The Samaritans helped their neighbors because those people needed food and clothing. Jesus helps us, who need to be saved from sin and death. We help our neighbor who needs clothing or food, or a comforting word, or forgiveness, or money, or a hug, or whatever.
We don't have to like the people around us. We should. But that's pretty tough. You can always love them, however. No matter who they are, ask, "What do they need and how can I help them?" You do this not because they deserve it, but because like you, they have been loved and redeemed by Jesus. That's not justifying yourself. That's just being loving toward your neighbor, with the very love Christ has for you! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Lord, let me win my foes With kindly words and actions. And let me find good friends For counsel and correction. Help me, as You have taught, To love both great and small And by You Spirit's might To live in peace with all. ("O God, My Faithful God" LSB 696, st.4)
-Rev. Mark Buetow is the pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in McHenry, Illinois.
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