No Rocking Chair Kindness


“But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came to where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.” –Luke 10:33

 We are often guilty in the church of a “rocking chair kindness.”  You know, the type that clucks and sighs over the griefs and woes of the world … and goes right on rocking, never getting up out of the chair to DO something about them.  The Good Samaritan acted – even at risk and cost to himself.  Pastor Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City explains in his book, “Ministries of Mercy,” that the Jericho Road was twisty, shadowy and dangerous.  Picture yourself walking along a dirty, dimly-lit street in the inner-city at midnight and, passing a darkened alley, you hear a moan.  Would you go into the alley to explore and help?

This is akin to what the Good Samaritan did.  Bandits hid out in the rocky crevices on either side of the Jericho Road, and the ones who brutalized the wounded man could have still been around, ready to waylay the person who came to his aid.  The Good Samaritan endangered and inconvenienced himself.  He stopped pursuing his agenda.  He got his own hands dirty tending to the man’s wounds.  He probably tore his own clothes to make bandages for the man, and disinfected the victim’s cuts with his own wine.  He took time to find a donkey on which to carry the man and an inn at which to lodge him.  He spent his own money for the man’s care.

The Good Samaritan wasn’t sitting at home in his rocking-chair, tut-tutting the news reports of the terrible robberies that occurred on the Jericho Road.  He was a doer.  And not a duty-driven, mechanical doer either.  In Jesus’ story, the Good Samaritan “took pity on the man.”  The Hebrew term esplanchniste involves a deep feeling of sympathy.  He had the right heart as well as the right actions.  His was the kindness that Jesus lauds.  Is ours?

For Further Thought…

  1. What things keep you from getting out of the rocking chair?
  2. Clement of Rome, a church father from the 3rd century, taught that “riches should be possessed in a becoming manner and shared generously, not mechanically and ostentatiously.”  (Quoted in Peter C. Phan, Social Thought in Message of the Fathers of the Church, Wilmington,DE:  Michael Glazier Inc., 1984). How can we keep our benevolent giving from becoming mechanical?

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