29 June, 2022

May 1 | Application

by | 25 April, 2022

The Bad Samaritan

By David Faust

There are good Samaritans and there are bad ones. Which kind are you?

On one occasion Jesus healed 10 men who had leprosy, but only one of them came back to thank him (Luke 17:11-17). That man was a Samaritan—a good one.

Sanballat, however, was a bad Samaritan. He ridiculed the Jews when they tried to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem (Nehemiah 4:1-2). One day a Samaritan woman came to draw water from a well near the town of Sychar. Her neighbors probably considered her a bad Samaritan, for she had been married five times and was then living with a sixth man who wasn’t her husband. After a life-changing conversation with Jesus, though, she became a good-news ambassador who introduced her neighbors to the Savior.

Bad Samaritans evidently can become good ones. That’s why Jesus wanted the gospel to be preached in Samaria (Acts 1:8), and when it was, many Samaritans accepted Christ and were baptized (Acts 8:5-11).


My wife, Candy, received her clinical training to be a registered nurse at Cincinnati’s Good Samaritan Hospital, which draws its name from Jesus’ story in Luke 10 about a kindhearted traveler from Samaria who modeled good neighboring. No healthcare facility has ever been called Bad Samaritan Hospital. We know what good Samaritans do, but what about bad Samaritans? Their actions are the opposite of good neighboring.

If you want to be a bad Samaritan, skip the good deeds you know you ought to do.

Never take a risk. Don’t get involved. After all, you might get hurt. Prioritize your personal safety above all other goals. Stay away from strangers, even those who obviously need your help.

If you want to be a bad Samaritan, see others as bothers rather than brothers and sisters.

Do what everybody else does. If others don’t step in, why should you? If the other side of the road is good enough for the priest and the Levite, why not walk there yourself?

Look away. “When he saw him” (Luke 10:33)—when the good Samaritan noticed the wounded traveler lying there half-dead—he got involved. Loving deeds start with observant eyes. Bad Samaritans look away and stay away from needy neighbors in hospitals, nursing homes, jails, and homeless shelters.

Allow no cracks in your emotional armor. For the good Samaritan, seeing led to caring. He “took pity on him” (v. 33). Bad Samaritans, though, have lost their capacity to care. They don’t have healthy boundaries; they build thick relational walls no one can penetrate.

Never get your hands dirty. Love was a hands-on experience for the good Samaritan. He bandaged the victim’s wounds, poured on oil and wine, and transported the beaten man to safety—in the process soiling his own clothes and getting blood and grime on his own donkey. Bad Samaritans may drive cleaner cars, but are their hands really clean?

Be stingy with your financial resources. The good Samaritan used his own money to pay the innkeeper and promised to follow up later and spend more if further assistance was needed. Bad Samaritans keep all their money to themselves.

Jesus’ story teaches us a lot about neighboring. Do you want to be a good Samaritan? “Go and do likewise” (v. 37). To be a bad one, just stay put and do nothing.

Personal Challenge: Think of a neighbor in need—someone you know who needs encouragement, financial assistance, or some other kind of practical help. This week, what will you do to assist them?

Christian Standard

Contact us at cs@christianstandardmedia.com


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