Extravagant-Generosity---heart-of-usWithin The United Methodist Church, we take vows as members to offer our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness to the church. I found it interesting that within the story of the good Samaritan, we find these vows lived out. Hear me out on this.

The Samaritan offered his prayers. Now, I know this isn’t expressed in the story in plain words, but hear what Jesus says in verse 33; “But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity.” Some translations say that “he had compassion.” I don’t know about you, but when I am filled with compassion for someone who is hurting, oppressed, or in bad situations, the first thing I do is offer prayers for them. Which is why I am certain that the Samaritan, upon first seeing this person on the road, prayed for them. Who knows, maybe it was the prayer that led him to help this person. I could imagine the Samaritan praying the God would help, heal, and protect this person. And then God speaks, calls out to him, and asks him to help. To be the hands and feet of Jesus to a complete stranger. The Samaritan prayed for this person.

The Samaritan offered his presence to the man on the side of the road. He didn’t walk down the other side of the road, as the others did. But walked up to him and bandaged his wounds. The Samaritan was present and real to the one who was hurting. He was present in his bandaging, he was present in placing the man on his own animal, and was present on the journey to the inn. But he was even more present in something else. Verse 35 starts; “The next day he took out two Denari.” The Samaritan’s presence was not limited to his bandaging and journey. He stayed the night with him. How many times has someone stayed with you for an extended period of time because you were hurting? How many times would you have liked someone to stay with you? The ministry of presence is so important, and the Samaritan practiced it fully. The Samaritan offered his presence.

The Samaritan offered his gifts. How many times can we say that picked up a stranger on the side of the road and not only cared for their wounds, but then put them in our car and drove them to the nearest Best Western and put them up for the night? Maybe someone has a story like this, but I would venture to say that not many of you do. But the Samaritan didn’t stop there. He knew that he had other business to attend to, but knew he couldn’t just leave this person out in the cold, so he told the innkeeper to keep him there, and that when he came back by in a few days, he would pay the innkeeper whatever else they spent to care for him. The Samaritan gave the innkeeper a blank check! Spend whatever you need to heal this man, and whatever it is, I will repay you. Spare no expense! That’s extravagance! The Samaritan offered his gifts.

The Samaritan offered his service. He didn’t have to stop that day. He could have rode by on the other side of the street, but he didn’t. He could have just said that he would pray for the man, but he didn’t. He could have just offered him some cash to get him to the next town, but he didn’t. He pulled out his first aid kit and got to work. I’m not sure if this Samaritan traveled with bandages and ointment. I don’t know if he was a doctor. He could have been tearing his own clothes to create bandages? We will never know, but we do know that he stopped, cleaned the man’s wounds, and bandaged them up. The Samaritan served this stranger. A stranger that could have been from a different country, a different race, a different anything. This stranger, by the way, is Jesus’ definition of our neighbor because this story is an answer to a lawyer’s question of ‘who is my neighbor?’ Regardless, the Samaritan offered his service.

The Samaritan offered his witness. This witness was expressed to the injured man through the love and devotion in his heart as he cared for the stranger; as he spared no expense to heal him and give him rest. That is a powerful witness. But it was also expressed to the innkeeper, as he showed up at the doorstep with someone who probably didn’t look like him and was pretty beaten up. Regardless, he paid for the room and stayed the night with him to make sure he was on the path of healing. Then is the offering of more money when he returned, the blank check that he gave the innkeeper. Can you image the witness and testimony that was offered? The Samaritan offered his witness.

Where are you offering your prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness today?