The Good Samaritan
Or, Real Church Work
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'
"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"
The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."
Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."
We live in days when there is an immense increase of what is called "Church work." The contrast between the ways of the present age, and the ways of our grandfathers, in trying to do good — is very great indeed. To preach the Gospel, and expound the Scriptures both on Sundays and week-days — to visit the sick frequently — to go from house to house as a pastor, endeavoring by kindly influence over all the members of families, to get at hearts and consciences — to keep up efficient day-schools, night-schools, and Bible classes — to create and maintain an interest about the souls of others, by Foreign and Home Missions — this used to be the work of the clergyman, and this was the kind of work in which he was ever trying to enlist the practical sympathy of his parishioners. It was good, solid, healthy, soul-helping, Christ-like work.
A great change has taken place in the last forty years. A quantity of work is continually being carried on both by clergymen and laymen, which, however well-meant, can hardly be called Christian — and in reality has a painful tendency to throw true Christian work into the background, if not to throw it entirely out!
No one, for instance, can fail to observe that a large number of professors are spending all their time and strength on Church music, Church decorations, Church programs, and an incessant round of Church attractions. Others are equally absorbed in such subjects as temperance, social work, feeding the poor, and improved dwellings for the working-classes. Others are incessantly getting up popular concerts, secular lectures, and evening recreations. They proclaim everywhere, that the way to do good is to amuse people!
Others are always occupied with guilds, and societies, and associations — and think you very wrong and heathenish if you do not join them. Myriads of professors are restlessly busy about such things from one end of the land to the other; and superficial observers are often saying, "What a great deal of Church-work there is in these days!"
Now I would not for a moment be supposed to mean that all the things I have just mentioned are wrong and wicked. Nothing could be further from my intention in drawing up this paper. But I doubt whether the present state of things is altogether healthy. I doubt whether the work of the Holy Spirit on hearts and consciences, is not insensibly being left out in the cold and neglected. Amidst the incessant bustle and stir about matters of entirely secondary importance — I doubt whether the sort of direct spiritual work to which the Apostles wholly gave themselves, receives as much attention as it ought.
It is quite certain that musical services, and church decorations, and concerts, and bazaars, and improved cookery, and the like — will not save souls. It is equally certain that, without repentance, and faith, and holy living, and practical, self-denying, kindly charity — no one is fit for Heaven. Do these simple, old-fashioned graces fill the place which they ought to do in the daily proceedings of many so-called church-workers in this day? I confess I doubt it exceedingly. I certainly see on every side a vast increase of what people call "Church-work." But I own to a strong suspicion, that there is little or no increase of true religion. There is more show and glitter and display, undoubtedly. But I doubt extremely whether there is more spiritual reality, and more growth of practical godliness, and zeal to save souls.
I propose to bring the matter to a point in this paper, by expounding the famous parable of the good Samaritan. I shall try to show my readers what our Lord Jesus Christ considers the test of real vital religion. Whether the great Head of the Church attaches much value to much of the "Church-work" of these days — our bazaars, our concerts, our secular readings, our musical services, our church decorations — is to my mind a very serious question.
Whether Jesus thinks that the immense quantity of time and money which they absorb, is well spent — is another very serious question which I find it difficult to answer.
But I do know that He loves to see Christians walking in the practical lines laid down for us in the parable of the good Samaritan. He who would know the highest style of "Church-work," the work that Christ would have us attend to, let him mark the lessons contained in this most practical parable.
I say "practical" with a purpose and meaning. Whatever some ignorant people may say, Christianity is eminently a practical religion. Its great end and aim is not only to show the way of peace with God — but the way of holiness of life. That salvation is only by grace — that justification is by faith without the deeds of the law — both these are foundation verities, cardinal truths of the Gospel. But it is no less true that saving faith will always be known by its fruits, and that the "grace of God, which brings salvation, teaches us to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world" (Titus 2:12). He is a poor sort of Christian to whom Christ is not made sanctification — as well as righteousness!
The man who does not see these things has hitherto read his New Testament to very little purpose. He should study the latter chapters of nearly all Paul's Epistles. He should mark the high standard of living which the Lord Jesus continually sets before His disciples in the Gospels. And, to come to the subject of this paper — where shall we find more heart-searching words about duty to our neighbor than in the parable of the good Samaritan? That well-known parable concludes with the searching injunction, "Go, and do likewise."
Reader, would you be found a true Christian at the last day? Would you not be condemned as nothing better than sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal? Then make the Samaritan your pattern. Be not content with mere thinking, feeling, talking, and intending. "Go, and do."
Three lessons appear to me to stand out on the face of
this parable. Let me try to show what they are, and then draw from the whole
subject some practical lessons.
I. See, first of all — what misery sin has brought into the world.
"A certain man," says our Lord, "went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves. They stripped him of his clothing, robbed him, beat him, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead." Lying helpless by the wayside — exposed naked to the burning rays of an Oriental sun — liable to be torn by vultures ever looking out for a carcass, or devoured by jackals when the sun went down — in all probability, without speedy aid, this poor traveler would soon have died.
Here was covetousness, violence, cruelty, robbery, murder, lawless disregard of life and property — all combined. Such are the consequences which the fall has brought into the world. Such is the heartless, hateful conduct of which fallen man is capable.
But does conduct like this stand alone? Alas, no! After 1800 years, human nature is still the same. Selfishness, oppression, cruelty, robbery, and even murder — are still to be found in every quarter of the globe. The slave trade of Africa, which goes on even now on the east coast, and in the Sudan — the massacres of the Indian Mutiny, and recently in Egypt — the treatment of women, children, the sick, and the poor in almost every heathen country — the social disorders which disgrace some parts of Christendom — the robberies, murders, and deeds of violence which our own newspapers record every week in our own land — all these things cry aloud to Heaven, and prove that the case of the traveler from Jerusalem to Jericho does not stand alone.
The plain truth is, that the suffering and the downtrodden — the victims of oppression and robbery and violence — are everywhere. They are to be found more or less in every climate, and in every country under the sun. They live in Europe, in Asia, in Africa, and in America. They dwell by the banks of the Seine — as well as the banks of the Thames. They dwell by the banks of the Mississippi and Amazon — as well as the banks of the Niger or Ganges. They abound under republics — as well as under monarchies. They dwell under liberal governments — as well as under despotism. Everywhere you will find trouble, care, sorrow, selfishness, bloodshed, and covetousness.
We see comparatively very little of it, thank God! in our own happy land. But even here, we see and hear far too much. We have but a faint idea of the enormities which go on in heathen countries, where the restraining influence of Christianity is unknown.
Now how shall we explain this? What is the cause of the state of things which I have just tried to describe? Did God create men at the beginning to bite and devour one another? Most certainly not! Are human governments to blame because robbery and violence abound? Not altogether. The fault lies far too deep to be reached by human laws. I pity those well-meaning people who imagine that any legislation can ever drive evil out of the world. There is a deep-seated cause of human misery which baffles all their schemes — that cause is sin. Sin is the universal disease which infects the whole earth. Sin brought in thorns and thistles at the beginning, and obliged man to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. Sin is the reason why the whole creation groans and travails in pain, and the foundations of the earth are out of course. Sin is the cause of all the burdens which now press down mankind.
Most men do not understand this — and weary themselves in vain to explain the state of things around them. But I boldly affirm that original sin and the fall of Adam are the great root and foundation of all sorrow, hatred and wrong-doing, whatever proud man may think.
Political and social reforms labor in vain, because they ignore the fall of Adam, and original sin. These are great stubborn facts, which ruin all their calculations. Without acknowledging the reality and consequences of sin — the great problems of human nature can never be solved.
How much we ought to hate sin, and to make the checking of sin the first object in our efforts to do good! How much we ought to long and strive to promote the progress of the Gospel of Christ! This, after all, is the only true reformer of mankind. Just in proportion as men are brought under the influence of the despised old Gospel — will be the increase of peace on earth and goodwill among men.
The more Christ is known and loved, and the more the Bible is read — the more will the inhabitants of the earth love one another. The more grace reigns over hearts and lives — the less hatred and violence will there be in the world. If pure and undefiled religion prevailed everywhere — then such plagues and pests and nuisances as quarreling, robbing, murder, drunkenness, immorality, swindling, gambling, idleness, lying, and cheating would be comparatively unknown. Half the prisons and workhouses would soon be shut. Lawyers and policemen would have little to do. Taxes would be cut in half. He is the truest friend to human happiness — who does the most to spread the knowledge of Christ and evangelize the world.
Men may laugh and mock at missions if they will. But the despised Evangelical Missionary, at home and abroad, the preacher of Christ and justification by faith, the preacher of the Holy Spirit and sanctification, is the best friend of mankind.
Let me turn now to another lesson which stands out on the
face of this parable.
II.See how much religious profession there may be without accompanying religious practice.
Our Lord mentions two simple facts, which I will give in His own words: "A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side." There is a deep mine of suggestive truth in those two verses — truth which, in every age of the world, has deserved attention, but truth which never required proclaiming so loudly as it does now.
The Jewish priests and Levites, we must remember, were the official leaders and representatives of the Jewish religion. They were, in a certain sense, mediators between God and the people until Messiah came. As such they were under special obligations to exhibit better knowledge of God's mind and holier practice than other children of Abraham. Their lips were to keep and teach knowledge. They were the authorized expounders of the law. They were the acknowledged models, patterns, and standards of godliness in life.
Yet here our Lord shows us two high professors of religion so utterly destitute of mercy, pity, and kind feeling — that they could see a fellow-man lying by the roadside stripped, wounded, and half dead — and yet pass on their way without lifting a finger to help him. Never was there a clearer proof that a man may have the form, and even the official dress of religion — and yet at the same time know nothing of its power!
The teaching of Scripture on this point is very distinct and explicit. Barren formality will save no man's soul, however high his office — if his heart is not right in the sight of God. Hophni and Phinehas, Annas and Caiaphas, were all in the direct line of succession from Aaron — but for anything we can see, they perished miserably in their sins. Barren formality in worshiping deprives the holiest ordinances of value, and turns them into dead religious forms.
What says the book of Isaiah? "Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations — I cannot bear your evil assemblies. Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them." (Isaiah 1:13,14). What says our Lord Himself? "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice" (Matthew (9:13). What says Paul? "Circumcision is nothing. Circumcision profits not — unless it is joined with faith working by love — a new creature — and keeping the commandments of God " (Galatians 5:6, 6:15; 1 Corinthians7:19). "He who eats and drinks the Lord's Supper unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself" (1 Corinthians 11.29).
Of all the sins which our blessed Lord denounced on earth, none drew down such severe reproof from His lips as hypocrisy, part-acting, and mere external religion. Eight times over in one single chapter we read the solemn words, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!" (Matthew 23.13-29). The higher a man's outward profession — the more offensive does he seem to be to Christ, if he has no inward grace in his heart. It was the solemn saying of our Lord concerning the formal scribes and Pharisees, "The publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of Heaven before you!" (Matthew 21:31).
Our lot is cast in an age when this subject demands the serious thought of all professing Christians. Perhaps there never was a period in the history of England when the externals of religion received such an amount of attention as they do now. It is an age of Church building, Church restoring, and Church decoration. It is an age of multiplied religious services and celebrations. It is an age of dresses, and processions, and banners, and gestures, and postures, and bowings, and turnings, and sensuous religion.
Do I say that these things are in themselves downright wicked, like robbery and murder? I say nothing of the kind. Many of them are only "pernicious trifles" — though suspicious symptoms of inward disease.
Do I say that all who love these things are wicked people? Once more I say nothing of the kind. But I do say that there is great danger of forgetting that these things do not constitute saving Christianity, and that the one principal thing God looks at in worshipers, is the state of the heart!
An English Christian may be as outwardly correct as a priest and Levite in the days of our Lord; but if, like them, he has no inward love, he will not be saved. A barren formalism, which knows nothing of experimental repentance, faith, charity, and self-denying kindness, may please the eye, and pass muster among men; but we may be certain that it is worthless in the sight of God.
We hear continually, in this day, of enormous sums of
money being spent . . .
on Church decorations,
on costly flowers at the great festivals,
on incessant daily religious rituals,
on a multiplied staff of clergy to keep up a round of religious ceremonies,
and on music and singing of the choicest description.
On all these objects, the annual expenditure in the English churches at this time is simply prodigious. But I would like much to know whether the congregations which enjoy this kind of public external religion, and give such large offerings to maintain it — contribute anything worth mentioning, by comparison, to the cause of Missions to the heathen, or to Home Missions, or, to speak briefly, to any evangelistic or Samaritan work in a sinful, dying world. I am sadly afraid that the results of inquiry would prove extremely unsatisfactory, and that we would discover some most unhealthy symptoms in our Church's condition.
"Has the Lord as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices — as in obeying the voice of the Lord?" (1 Samuel 15.22). Does God care for flowers and fine musical performances — when Christ's work, and active aggressive evangelism, and personal dealing with souls, and true brotherly Samaritan conduct, are neglected? Never, never let us forget, that while "man looks at the outward appearance — the Lord looks at the heart!" (1 Samuel 16. 7).
All religion is worthless — which does not bear the fruit of active, Christ-like love. The congregation which pleases God most in this day — is not necessarily that in which there is the finest music and the most ornamental religious ceremonial. The congregation which He approves is that in which, however plain the service, there are most good Samaritans, most temples of the Holy Spirit, and most direct personal effort to convert sinners and save souls. This is real Church work!
I cannot do better than show it to you in His own
matchless words. I read, "But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where
the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and
bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own
donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out
two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said,
'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may
have.'" Luke 10:33-35
III. Let me now turn, in the last place, to the grand lesson about true Christian work and labor of love which our Lord sets before us in this parable.
What a striking portrait of the queen of all the graces you have in these words! Here was ready, unexpected kindness. The Samaritan saw a case needing help — and at once felt and acted. He required no begging, soliciting, or importunity. His eye saw, his heart was touched, and his hand helped altogether. Here was kindness unaffected by example. He might easily have said: 'The Jewish priest and Levite did nothing for this traveler, and why should I do anything at all?' He showed a noble independence of judgment. Whatever others did — he cared not. He knew his own duty, and was resolved to do it, even though he did it alone.
Once more, here was kindness requiring self-denial, trouble, time, and self-sacrifice. Money, patient care, his own ease and convenience — were all bestowed without grudging on a stranger. He did unto another — as he would desire another to do unto him.
Now, what a solemn fact it is that the parable ends with the searching words, "Go, and do you likewise!" If ever there was a time when conduct like the Samaritan's was rare, it is the time in which we live. Selfish indifference to the needs of others is a painful characteristic of the age. Search the land in which we live, and name, if you can, a single county or town — in which the givers to really good healthy Church works are not a small minority, and in which philanthropic and religious agencies are not kept going, only and entirely, by painful begging and constant solicitation. Go where you will, the report is always the same. Hospitals, Missions at home and abroad, evangelistic and educational agencies, Churches, Chapels, and Mission Halls — all are incessantly checked and hindered by lack of support.
Where are the Samaritans, we may well ask, in this land of Bibles and New Testaments? Where are the men who love their neighbors, and will help to provide for dying bodies and souls? Where are the people always ready and willing to give unasked, and without asking how much others have given?
Millions are annually spent on hunting, and yachting, and racing, and gambling, and balls, and theaters, and dressing, and pictures, and furniture, and recreation. Little, comparatively — ridiculously little, is given or done for the cause of Christ. A miserable guinea subscription too often is the whole sum bestowed by some very wealthy men on the bodies and souls of his fellow-men. Dives "fares sumptuously every day," while Lazarus starves and languishes within a quarter of a mile of his door.
The very first principles of Christian giving seem lost and forgotten in many quarters. People must be bribed and tempted to contribute by bazaars — just as children in badly-managed families are bribed to be good by candy. They must not be expected to give — unless they get something in return! And all this goes on in a country where people call themselves Christians, and go to Church and glory in rituals, and talk of the vast amount of "Church-work" going on, and profess to believe the parable of the good Samaritan! I fear there will be a sad awakening up at the last day!
Where, after all, to come to the root of the matter, where is that brotherly love which used to be the distinguishing mark of the primitive Christians? Where, amidst the din of controversy and furious strife of parties — where is the fruit of the Holy Spirit and Christian love — the primary mark of spiritual regeneration? Where is that charity without which we are no better than "sounding brass and tinkling cymbals"? Where is the charity which is "the bond of perfectness"? Where is that love by which our Lord declared all men should know His disciples, and which John said was the distinction between the children of God and the children of the devil? Where is it indeed?
Read in the newspapers, the frightfully violent language of opposing politicians. Mark the hideous bitterness of controversial theologians, both in the press and on the platform. Observe the fiendish delight with which anonymous letter-writers endeavor to wound the feelings of opponents, and then to pour vitriol into the wound. Look at all this ghastly spectacle which any observing eye may see any day in England. And then remember that this is the country in which men are reading the New Testament, and professing to follow Christ. Can anything more grossly inconsistent be conceived? Can anything be imagined more offensive to God?
Truly, it is astonishing that such myriads should be so keen about Christian profession and external worship, and talk so loudly about Church work — and yet be so utterly careless about the simplest elements of Christian practice! Where there is no love — there is no spiritual life. Without love, although they may baptized and communicants — men are dead in trespasses and sins.
It is no pleasure to me to write these things, and I can truly say that I have handled them with pain. But I am thoroughly convinced that the times demand very plain testimony on the subject. The rise and progress of immense zeal about the externals of religion, without any corresponding increase in brotherly feeling, neighborly conduct, Christian charity, and real Scriptural effort to convert and save souls — I regard as one of the most dangerous symptoms of the Church in this day. It is high time to awaken out of sleep, and amend our ways, lest we be given over to judicial blindness, and be forsaken by God.
A Church in which Pharisees and formalists are many, and good Samaritans are few — is in a most unhealthy condition. God grant we may "strengthen the things that remain," before it is too late, lest our candlestick be taken away!
(a)And now, before I conclude this paper, let me ask if any reader of its pages really wishes to walk in the steps of the good Samaritan? Listen to me for a few moments, and I will give you some advice.
You will never be the man commended in the parable,
unless you begin at the right end. A truly loving heart, will only spring
from inward grace and experimental union with Christ. Cut flowers do not
make a garden. A little spasmodic philanthropy, and giving your goods to
feed the poor — will never make a Samaritan. Oh, no! you must have within
you the deep hidden roots . . .
of conviction of sin,
of lively faith in Christ,
of a sense of obligation to Him,
and of real communion with God.
Once know something of these things — and you will never be content with a selfish, formal Christianity. You will long, and strive, and burn to be like your Master, and will be always trying to do good, and to leave the world a better world than it was when you were born.
Dear friend, either you have a soul — or you have not. You will surely never deny that you have. Then if you have a soul, seek that soul's salvation. Of all gambling in the world, there is none so reckless as that of the man who lives unprepared to meet God, and yet puts off repentance.
Either you have sins — or you have none. If you have (and who will dare to deny it?) — then break off from those sins, cast away your transgressions, and turn away from them without delay.
Either you need a Savior — or you do not. If you do, flee to the only Savior this very day, and cry mightily to Him to save your soul. Apply to Christ at once. Seek Him by faith. Commit your soul into His keeping. Cry mightily to Him for pardon and peace with God. Ask Him to fill you with the Holy Spirit and make you a thorough Christian. He will hear you. No matter what you have been, He will not refuse your prayer. He has said, "Him that comes to Me — I will never cast out" (John 6.37).
Beware, every one into whose hands this paper may fall, beware of a vague and indefinite Christianity. Be not content with a general hope that all is right, because you belong to the old Church of England, and that all will be well at last because God is merciful. Rest not, rest not, without personal union with Christ Himself. Rest not, rest not until you have the witness of the Spirit in your heart, that you are washed and sanctified, and justified, and one with Christ, and Christ in you. Rest not until you can say with the apostle, "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him against that day" (2 Timothy 1.12). Then, and then only, will you feel something of the spirit of the Samaritan. True charity and love to our neighbor will never be really learned, except in the school of Christ.
(b)Once more, does any reader of this paper want motives to keep him up to the Samaritan standard, and does he shrink from the idea of doing more than others? Let such an one listen to me for a few brief moments, and I have somewhat to say to him.
Friend, have you forgotten your debt to Christ? Think what the blessed Savior did for you. Surely there is nothing too great to do for Him. Much forgiven — you ought to love much. Have you forgotten the example of Christ? He was ever going about doing good. His earthly career was one long life of kind and charitable actions. With what face will you meet Him, if you never try to imitate Him? Have you forgotten the solemn account you have to render in the judgment of the last day? It is not open sin that was charged on those on the left hand, in the parable of the sheep and goats. It was simply omission of duty, and lack of active love to others. They were condemned because they had done nothing at all.
Alas, for myriads of professing Christians! Weighed in the balance of the end of the 25th chapter of Matthew, their prospects are miserable indeed. Reader, think of these motives, and inwardly digest them. What good are you doing in the world? What gap will it make when you are taken away? Oh, awake, awake, awake to a sense of responsibility. Men and women who live and die in ignorance of the Samaritan's character in this parable, will find one day that they had better never have been born!
Look around the world, look around the neighborhood in which you dwell. Ask yourself whether there is nothing you can do to check immorality, vice, and sin — nothing you can do to promote temperance, soberness, and chastity — nothing you can do to lessen sorrow and increase happiness — nothing you can do to promote the cause of Christ — nothing you can do to fill Heaven — nothing you can do to empty Hell. What! nothing, nothing, nothing!
I never will believe it. There is always some work of mercy which the least and humblest can do. If you have but a grain of influence, throw it boldly into the scale of good. Only do not sit still. Time is flying. Up and be doing. Beware of living the life of a sloth — lest you end by dying the death of a dog. Remember your Lord's words, "Go, and do likewise."
Reader, let these truths sink down deeply into your heart. It is a melancholy fact that there are few Christian duties so little practiced, as that of active practical love. It is sad to see how much bitterness, unmercifulness, spite, hardness, and selfishness there is among men. Yet there are few duties so strongly enforced in the New Testament Scriptures as this duty is, and few of which the neglect so clearly shuts a man out of the kingdom of God!
Would you give proof that you are at peace with God, washed in Christ's blood, born of the Spirit, and made God's child by adoption and grace? Then remember the parable of the good Samaritan, and act upon it. This is real Church work. Like your Father in Heaven, be actively kind, loving, and charitable. Has any man injured you, as the Jews injured the Samaritans? This day forgive him, and try to do him good. As an old divine says, "We ought to forgive ourselves little — and others much."
Would you do good to the world? Would you have any influence on others, and make them see the beauty of true religion? Then remember the parable of the Samaritan, and act upon it. This is real Church work. Men who care nothing for doctrines — can understand a loving temperament and charitable deeds.
Would you grow in grace yourself, and become more holy in all your ways, words, and works? Then remember the parable of the good Samaritan, and act upon it. Nothing so grieves the Holy Spirit, and brings spiritual darkness over the soul — as giving way to a selfish, ill-natured, and unkind temper (Ephesians 4:30-32).
Would you pass through life with comfort, and see good days? Then remember the parable of the good Samaritan, and act upon it. This is real Church work. Implacable and uncharitable tempers are one great cause of the unhappiness which abounds in this world. Resolve to be one of those who will forgive "seventy times seven," and do good, looking for nothing in return — and you will never have cause to regret it. In the long run of life — the man of peace and love is never a loser. Remember the words of Paul: "Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:19-21
Last of all, would you like to leave good evidences behind you when you die? Would you like to be one whose Christian character no one can deny, after you are buried? Then remember the parable of the good Samaritan, and act upon it. Under every provocation, and in all circumstances — be a forgiving man, a kind man, a man who is always trying to do good. This is real Church work. This is the best and most infallible proof that a professed member of Christ is what he professes. No man is so like Christ — as the Christian who is a great forgiver, and "goes about doing good." No one is so like the devil — as the uncharitable man.
Reader, remember the words of the apostle Paul!
"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." Colossians 3:12-14