“GOD PUT YOU IN MY PATH”                              By Pastor YAU

Text: Luke 10:29-37                                                   December 10, 2006.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   A movies story: In the movie The Four Feathers, Harry left England in the 1880s to search for his friends in the King’s army in Sudan. In his quest, Harry got lost and was near death in the vast deserts of Africa. As his life was ebbing away, he was rescued by an African, Fatma, who cared for him. Stunned by the man’s kindness to a stranger, Harry asked why his new friend had done so much for him. Fatma’s response was simple and direct: “God put you in my path!”

2)   A Jesus’ story: To answer a question posted by a religious lawyer, Jesus also told a fictional story, the famous parable of the Good Samaritan. In this story, a priest and a religious scholar, whose calling was to help the needy and the downcasts, ignored the need of a fallen traveler who had been robbed, bitten and left to die on the roadside to Jericho. A despised Samaritan, however, gave his time and resource to help the hurting man, displaying compassion of Christ. He bandaged his wounds, brought him to an inn and took care of him. (Luke 10:34) This ravaged man has been put in the path of all three travelers, but only one, the Samaritan, responded.

 

THE PATHS OF OUR LIFE: 

1)   Who designs our paths? For people who don’t believe anyone is wiser and better than them, they call it “fate”. For those of us who believe there is someone who is much bigger and wiser than all of us, we call Him God. We believe that God is the one who not just designs the paths of all men, but he is also in full control of the going, turning and arriving at the spot He has planned for each one of us. Nothing in this universe happens because of an accident or by chance without purpose. If you don’t believe the creation story, just look at how your body functions or how the universe moves and you can’t deny that there is a God who made all things and is in charge of all their movements including you and me.

2)   How do our paths work? No one is created to exist on the planet earth all by himself or for himself alone. Everyone was born into a family, a clan, a community or a tribe or race. The path of one man usually connects or intertwined with that of others. To ignore this fact will create problems for us and others. You are here not just for your own needs or purpose. God puts you among others for a greater purpose and your life will be lot more beneficial and productive if you function that way. This panoramic view of life puts us not in the center of the world but as important parts of the mosaic. Every person you may contact with is an important part of your life and it is true the other way around.

3)   The good, the bad and the ugly”: This is the title of an old western movie very popular long time ago. The title tells us there are many kinds of people, the good, the bad and some are worse than the bad, the ugly. If you are looking only for the good ones, you will be disappointed everyday of your life. It is your choice to be one of the categories. No one can force you to be anything else. One thing you have no choice is crossing the paths of the bad and the ugly. They are here and there and everywhere. There are people who will never keep up their duties, never do their fair share to the well being of others. Some of us will have to clean up their mess, wipe their noses and pamper them to make them happy.

4)   Here come the Samaritans: There was one Samaritan in the Bible but many good Samaritans are here all around us and you can be one of them if you choose to. These Samaritans will do more than their duty’s call. They will go the extra mile to do something no one else care or help someone others ignore. They will give their time, love, care and resource to make the surrounding better, people happier and hopes brighter. Their purpose of life is much bigger than taking care of their own needs. They exist to benefit others along the paths of life. These are the kind of people we call them great. You can be like that if you choose to.

 

WHY ARE SO FEW SAMARITANS?

1)    The biggest stumbling block: And that is the self-centered nature of man. All of us were born with that depraved nature: everyone is selfish to begin with. All you have to see is go to the church nursery and see how little ones fight to keep the toys. Or see what all of us will do when a group picture is in front of us: try hard to find yourself and how you look in that picture. This human nature plays an important role in setting ourselves on top of others and our needs are more important than that of others. It will take a much bigger perspective of life to overcome this selfish nature: you are not the most important one. Others are as important as you are if not more.

2)    My limited resources: Many of us will shy off in being a Good Samaritan because we are afraid of the shortage of our resource. To be a Good Samaritan means we may have to give or share our limited resources with those who have needs and that may hurt our own needs. This formula may be true in mathematical sense. But it will not be true in biblical sense. The Bible has so much to say on: “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.” (Luke 6:38) No one who is generous in helping and giving will ever suffer loss or shortage for them or their beneficiaries. How about the little lunch of that little boy who gave it to Jesus to feed the 5,000 and still have 12 baskets of remnants?

3)    Fear of getting into trouble: Especially in today’s society, legal liability and entanglement are some of the things we are all afraid of when we try to help someone. This is a real issue and it needs to be handled properly. Today’s society is lot more complicated than that of the Bible time. Helping others may cause you more than you expect. But that doesn’t mean we stop doing that. Volunteer your time or expertise in a community organization is one way. Go and help in the schools your kids go to is another. Join the church team in helping a community project is still another. Invite student groups to your home for a holiday dinner or helping a family in time of need and the list goes on and on. The sky is the limit on what you can do without the risks of getting into legal troubles.

4)    Others may do it: This is another excuse many of us will give when we don’t want to be a Good Samaritan. I guess that may be the thought in the mind of the priest and the Pharisee who passed by that dying man and did nothing. Others may or may not do anything is not the point. The point is will you do something to help this man who has immediate needs. If everyone uses this excuse and not willing to help, there won’t be anyone who will. In the story of the Bible, if that Samaritan didn’t do any help that wounded man may die on the roadside while hundreds, if not thousands, of people passed by him. When God puts someone in your path of life, He intends for you to do something about it.

 

WHAT MAKES A GOOD SAMARITAN?

1)    He has compassion: Compassion is an inner quality of love and care for people who are in need. In the parable of the Prodigal Son, the father had compassion for his son when he came home broke. In Greek the word means “moving of the intestines”, the softest part inside a person.  Compassion causes a man more than just to see the need but to “feel” the need and respond to it. Compassion goes beyond reason or intellectual faculty. It comes from the heart of man, not from his brain.

2)    He doesn’t mind interruption: Interruption is a nuisance in today’s fast moving society. Stopping what you are doing to help someone you don’t even know is something very few will do. But that was exactly what the Good Samaritan did when he stopped his journey to help that dying man. No one knows what might be the purpose of his taking the trip from Jerusalem to Jericho. But one thing for sure he was not on vacation and had plenty of time to spend. Too often, we make excuses for not helping the unexpected because we are so much caught up with our own business and don’t want to be interrupted. We see our plans and business more important than the person who has immediate needs.

3)    He is willing to give: This Good Samaritan did not just give his heart and time, he gave his resources: bandages, oil and wine, his own donkey and money to keep the man a live and get well. To be a Good Samaritan takes more than just a soft heart and compassion, it often times costs us material resources and that may be a main reason many will decline to be one. We must be willing to give more than just our good will and compassion; we also need to be willing to sacrifice our material resources. No giving, no helping.

4)    He is willing to follow up: Most people are more willing to give help if it is only a one-shot deal. Few people are willing to take on a long term responsibility in helping others. When God puts on our paths someone who may have long term needs, we can’t just give him a “lift” and then disappear. We all understand the weight of a long term responsibility, but if we run away from the initial help, what good could it be when the man still lying in bed dying in an inn. Follow up is as important as the initial assistance by the Good Samaritan. His promise of returning and paying set an example of being helpful all the way until the man is well to stand on his feel.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)    What sets the Samaritan apart? Compare him with the priest and the Pharisee who also had the opportunity to being a good helper but chose not to, this Samaritan made the best of the opportunity God puts in his path of life. For thousands of years, he has become a model of good will and compassion and may have helped many to follow his good example. What sets you apart?

2)    How will you respond? What will you do when God interrupts your plans with the urgent needs of someone? When God puts someone in your path, what excuses will you give to avoid getting involved? What do you need to do to change your attitude to see the needs and have the compassion to act?

3)    Respond to the compassion of Jesus: Jesus has the softest of all the hearts of men. He sees the needs of all men to be saved from their sins. He died on the cross for you and me. Today, He invites you to believe in Him and take Him into your heart. “Whoever comes to me,” Jesus said, “I will never drive him away.” (John 6:37) Are you ready to come to Jesus today?