The Good Samaritan - The Good Steward

The Good Samaritan - The Good Steward

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The story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10.25-37) is one that many of us have heard at least a dozen times. But I wonder how many have heard it through the lens of stewardship. I had not until just recently when I heard Grace Duddy Pomroy do so in a webinar.

The story is reasonably broken into two sections: vv. 25-28 and 29-37. In the first section, a lawyer tests Jesus. The key verse is the lawyer’s response to Jesus, where the lawyer cites Deuteronomy 6.5 and Leviticus 19.18b, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your might, and your neighbor as yourself.”

The second section addresses the question, “who is my neighbor?” and contains the story of a traveler going from Jerusalem to Jericho, who is accosted by robbers, stripped, beaten, and left half dead on the side of the road. A priest sees the traveler and passes by, as does a Levite.

Then comes a Samaritan. Seeing the injured man, who has been “left to die,” he is moved with pity/compassion. The Samaritan goes over to him, bandages his wounds, puts him on his donkey, takes him to an inn, continues to care for him through the night, and leaves the next day, but gives money to the innkeeper to provide for the needs of the injured man and pledges to pay whatever more the innkeeper spends.

This story is most often interpreted as an illustration of what it means to be a “neighbor” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.” But Pomroy, and now I, consider it to also be a great example of stewardship.

In stewardship discussions, we often talk about giving one’s time, talent, and treasure. Is this not what the Samaritan does? Does he not give of his time, his talent, his treasure?

The Samaritan interrupts his journey to care for the injured man. He revises his plans, giving the man’s needs priority over his own, and not just for a few minutes or hours, but for the entire rest of the day and evening, spending the night caring for the injured man. He gives his time.

The Samaritan bandages the injured man’s wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. We don’t know the extent of the Samaritan’s medical knowledge, but Jesus describes him using the skills he had to heal the man and relieve his suffering. He gives his talents.

The Samaritan gives two denarii – approximately two days’ wages – to the innkeeper to pay for any expenses the innkeeper might incur in caring for the man; and he pledges to repay the innkeeper for expenses beyond the two denarii. He gives his treasure.

In the story of the Good Samaritan we see love and stewardship coming together. We see, as Pomroy expresses it, stewardship as love in action. The Samaritan lives out God’s imperative to “love your neighbor as yourself” by using the gifts God had entrusted to him, the gifts of time, talent, and treasure to express and actualize his love of neighbor. The Good Samaritan shows us what “love your neighbor” looks like in very real terms.

In this time of COVID-19 I see our people and our churches being good stewards of the resources God has entrusted to their care; the resources of time, talent, and treasure (broadly understood to include all material possessions) to live out the God’s commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

I see this in the way people are using their time volunteering in food pantries, serving in soup kitchens, calling neighbors, writing cards and notes, assembling food packages, running errands for others, et cetera. There are a myriad of ways people and churches are using the resource of time that God has entrusted to them to “love their neighbor” as themselves.  

I see this in the way people are using their talents to care for the sick, make meals for the hungry, listen compassionately to others when they need to talk, make face masks to distribute, and help others with technology, getting online, and using the Internet. The ways people and churches have been using their divinely entrusted talents to “love their neighbor” are varied and plentiful.

I see this in the ways people and churches are using the material blessings God has entrusted to their stewardship. These material blessings include not only money and financial assistance, but also cloth purchased to make masks, donated food and clothing, and other things they own or purchase and then give to others to express God’s love, and care for them in a tangible way.yahoo

Our Judeo-Christian faith understands ALL of creation, including us, to belong to God. Psalm 24 opens with, “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it…” One atonement theory posits Jesus as ransoming or redeeming us, moving Paul to write that we are not our own, for we were bought with a price (see 1 Cor. 6.19-20; Rom. 14.7-8; 2 Cor. 5.14-15; Gal. 2.19-20).

In addition, our tradition warns us against thinking that what we have, we got on our own, or by our own devices. Deuteronomy 8.17-18 reads, “Do not say to yourself, ‘My power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he [sic] who gives you power [talent and ability] to get wealth.”

Thus, all that we are, our life, our talents; and all that we “have,” our money, our possessions; do not belong to us, despite what our culture tells us. Instead it comes from and belongs to God, who has entrusted these gifts to us to manage and use to further God’s loving, saving mission in and to the world.

This is what I have seen during this pandemic – our people and our churches, like the Good Samaritan, being outstanding stewards of God’s resources to bring the love and justice of Jesus to a hurting world.

Thank you for your stewardship! I pray we continue to steward God’s resources in ways that bring glory to God and further God’s saving mission of love, justice, healing, and wholeness.
 

Author

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David Cleaver-Bartholomew

Rev. Dr. David Cleaver-Bartholomew is the Transitional Associate Conference Minister for Stewardship and Financial Development for the SNEUCC.

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