The Good Samaritan

We have all either read or heard about the Good Samaritan.

It was a parable told by Jesus in response to a man hoping to be able to justify himself. This particular man was a lawyer who seemingly knew all the right answers, especially those regarding acquiring right relationship with God. In fact, when he asked the Lord what it would take to inherit eternal life, and Jesus turned the question on him, he responded with the correct answer. However, we find in Luke 10 that, in this man’s heart, he is trying to put the Lord to the test. The question that Jesus prompts him with in response is this, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” As is taught throughout Scripture, and as this man correctly answers, the whole Law can be summed up in this: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself.

Although he answered correctly and Jesus encouraged him to do just that in order to have life, the lawyer still sought to justify himself. Usually the heart behind seeking to be justified is to remove all guilt. This man wanted to be seen as innocent in the eyes of those who held power in their position. That is why this led to the man asking his next weighty question, “And who is my neighbor?”

This then brings us to the parable told by Jesus of the Good Samaritan.

Over the summer, I had the privilege to work at Pine Cove, a Christ-centered family camp that lasts for ten weeks. During one of our sessions leading up to the start of camp, at which point we would be asked to serve and love on 250 families, the director of the camp spoke on this parable in a way that I had never heard before. He was urging us to not find strength in ourselves to make it through the difficult days that would soon be ahead. It was such a beautiful reminder of the gospel and gave so much empowerment to “go and do likewise.”

As followers of Christ, we are called to love the Lord and love our neighbor as ourselves. Oftentimes, when we listen to a sermon on this passage, we are encouraged to be like the Good Samaritan who selflessly loves the man left for dead as opposed to those who were religious yet cold hearted. It’s so easy for us to want to place ourselves in the story as the hero. Take for instance the way that we often like to apply passages like 1 Samuel 17 to our lives. In this Scripture we find the well known story of David and Goliath. After reading this empowering passage, it is the role of David, who placed his faith in God and defeated the giant, that we like to identify with. However, David is being portrayed here as the Savior who accomplished what the army of Israelites could not. It is a foreshadowing of what Christ would come to earth to accomplish.

Here’s the beauty of it: instead of placing ourselves in the shoes of the Good Samaritan, imagining ourselves to be people who are more than willing to go above and beyond for those who are in need, we need to first place ourselves in the shoes of the man left on the side of the road.

One of the gospel truths is this: we love because He first loved us. We will never be able to effectively be a conduit of God’s grace, love, or forgiveness until we have first experienced it for ourselves. Therein lies the beauty of this parable, in it we see Christ and the love that he has for us, the length that he is willing to go, and we receive the instruction to go and do likewise. As

Jen Wilkin puts this concept in her book In His Image, “Withholding mercy from others reveals that we do not recognize what we ourselves have received.”

The Bible teaches us that we once were dead in our trespasses and sins, until God made us alive in Christ. That is why it is so important to first see ourselves in this parable as the man who was attacked and left for dead as he was traveling.

Completely hopeless.

That is when the Good Samaritan enters into the narrative.

Instead of walking by in avoidance, as those who had gone before him had done, he stops and has compassion on the sufferer. And not only does he stop to see what he can do to help in the moment, he goes to the extreme of taking responsibility for making sure that the man is restored to good health.

The Good Samaritan cares for and binds the wounds, places the man on his donkey, then takes him to an inn where he continued to care for the badly injured man. He then pays in full with his own money whatever the tab would cost for the man to stay at the inn and be well taken care of.

This is a picture of the gospel. When we have the eyes to see it, our hearts are moved to an even greater appreciation for the length Christ went to save us and the love that he has shown for us. Jesus came to earth as a man, knowing that we were helpless on our own, left for dead, he came with compassion. Meeting us where we were, he knelt down and bound up our wounds, taken upon himself the full weight of our sin. He cries out for us, “Paid in full.”

With hearts fully set on Christ, we then have the ability to go and do likewise as Jesus has beseeched us to do. As we truly love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind and love our neighbor as ourself, we become in our own lives a reflection of the gospel.

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Renewal of the Mind

“…to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” – Ephesians 4:23-24

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2

I’ve always been taught that the battlefield is in the mind. When it comes to the spiritual realm especially. This statement has proven itself to be true in my life. The question is how much control do we have of our minds, that we can be victorious as we fight the good fight of faith.

Piece by Piece

The move of action for a believer is surrender. Surrender in the sense that we relinquish control of our circumstances to the Lord, who alone is in the position to be sovereign over them in the first place. This surrender sometimes happens little by little. We give our entire lives to Christ as his followers, but there are desires, memories, and habits that we like to hold onto.

It’s important to realize how much your thought life influences you. Your thoughts create your mood. Being able to surrender our thought life to Christ so that our mind can be renewed is so vital for a believer.

God has given us the ability to have control over what we choose to accept into our mind and whether we let ourselves get to a place where we are being very reactive to what is happening to us. This requires self-control. Honing in on the ability to be very mindful and observant of the filter that you have ready to discern what is allowed in and out.

Obviously, the best way to develop a sound and solid filter is to spend time in the Word. It is living and active, and one of the many benefits to allowing your heart and mind to be saturated by it is that it shapes and molds you into the person who is able to discern what is good and right and pleasing to the Lord.

Strongholds

Strongholds are seen in Scripture as either being a place of refuge when our stronghold is God or something very destructive that can only be brought down by divine power. (2 Corinthians 10:4)

The definition of a stronghold is a place that has been fortified. In our minds, this is a thought pattern that has taken a place of power in how we think. You can relate a stronghold to a person that starts smoking. At first, the cigarette has no power. It’s just a pastime, but as it is given precedence in one’s life, it gains power over the person.

Strongholds are one of the most challenging things to overcome in our thought life for several reasons. One reason is that oftentimes, we don’t even realize that they are there. It takes prayer and serious introspection to even become aware of their existence let alone identify exactly what the stronghold is. Also, strongholds are not easily defeated. As was mentioned earlier, they can only be taken down by divine power. All too often, when we realize that something has a hold on us, we try to manage it ourselves. Get it right before we have the courage to come to God with it. But we need to see that only by his power are we able to conquer these strongholds in our minds.

Remember…We walk by faith and not by sight. And our battle is not against flesh and blood.

Faith and Trust

Two HUGE weapons that we have in our minds are faith and trust. Both having to do with our relationship and dependence on God in all circumstances.

In Screwtape Letters, one of my favorite chapters that C.S. Lewis wrote is on the concept of being in the present. In order to live by faith, it has to be an acceptance and trust of who God is and what he is doing in the present. Lewis describes how the present time is the only moment when eternity touches down. Living in the past might be kind of rooted in reality, since those things actually happened, but it isn’t where God is working now. And even worse is letting your mind wander and spend all of its time in the future, where there is no way for us to grasp reality. Only the Lord holds the future in his hands, but he doesn’t operate in a way that lets us see into or be a part of living in that future. Only in the present moment are we given a chance to partake in his work.

All that being said. Let’s desire a mindfulness that identifies when we start going down a dangerous path. Take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5) Engage in this battle over your mind. Let it be renewed by Christ. Let it be surrendered to the washing of the Word. Commit not only your life but also your thought life to Jesus. Let him reign in your heart and mind. And be fully present in the moment because this is when God is choosing to invite you into the story of eternity.

Originally published @http://www.grace-nation.com/2018/05/08/renewal-of-the-mind-britney-ohara/