Was I That Levite?

By the time he had spoken his first sentence, I knew the caller was a benevolence case. I’ve handled a number of calls for help in my two-plus decades of preaching, and there are signals I’ve learned to detect. But this caller’s request was different. He wasn’t asking for help with his rent or for groceries. He needed a ride to the hospital to see a doctor.
My first thought was “Why me?” So far as I know I had never met this man before. When he told me where he lived, I knew two things: It wasn’t near the church building where I minister, and it was in an area of town that’s pretty poor. Was I hesitant to say yes to his request? I was.
A voice in my mind, however, reminded me of the parable of the good Samaritan. I know very well how Jesus concluded that lesson: “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37, NKJV). So I didn’t tell the caller “No”. But I qualified my willingness to help.
I told him I had a lot of things planned for the day, so I wouldn’t be able to stay with him. I would take him to the emergency room but he would need to find someone else to take him back home. He said that wouldn’t work, and ended our conversation fairly quickly.
I spoke the truth; I had several things planned for the day. But so did the priest and the Levite in Jesus’ parable. And so did the Samaritan. There’s no indication in the parable that an opening in one’s schedule is a prerequisite for helping others. Instead it seems clear that Christ’s followers should be ready to rearrange their schedules to meet needs that unexpectedly appear.
How long would I have spent with this man if I had done as he asked? A few hours at the least, I’m confident. But should I have been concerned with that? Or should I have been more what I claim to be — a servant? Servants don’t request rain checks. They respond when called upon.
Who was this fellow who called me? I never got his name. (But neither did I ask for it.) He was ordinary, poor, likely unemployed. He probably qualified for this designation: “one of the least of these my brethren” (Matthew 25:40).
The call lasted only three or four minutes at the most. But I’ve wrestled with it in my mind ever since. It has caused me to question whether I can claim to be a good Samaritan. Or am I more like the Levite or the priest of Luke 10?

Making application of the Parable of the Good Samaritan

2 Replies to “Was I That Levite?”

  1. So you told him that you would take him there and he refused? The wounded man in the parable of the good Samaritan wasn’t in a position to refuse help. I don’t necessarily see these two situations as parallel. I agree with you, though, that we often have a mental block when it comes to helping the poor. I struggle with it as well. There are so many, it seems, that just want to take advantage and are not sincerely in need of help. It’s hard not to become cyn(sin?)ical.

  2. I’ve had the same experience many times, and with the same guilt feelings. But would not common sense ask, “Where are this man’s friends? Does he not have a friend? I’ve called “friends” on many occasions, even at awkward times — and they came running. Jimmy Stewart once said, when begging money for the Red Cross, it is the organizations that we can depend on today, not friends. I emphatically deny this! JO

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