Imagine with me, if you will, what happened next after the man left half dead on the road to Jericho, recovered from his injuries. (Read Luke 10:30-37 for the story)
When he first came to, the good Samaritan was long gone, and the innkeeper was in charge of his care. But the innkeeper was busy and the man was left alone a lot. He pieced together what happened from the different threads of conversation he’d overheard. But mostly he was angry and afraid – and he spent his time ruminating and plotting.
You see, he’d fallen among thieves who’d robbed him and harmed him. But that wasn’t the whole story. He was a thief too, and was transporting stolen goods to the Jericho black market. But he had been betrayed by his fellow travelers, men who disguised themselves as priests and Levites. Now, he wanted revenge. He felt helpless just waiting there. But he wasn’t strong enough to leave the inn.
In this state of mental turmoil, the innkeeper announced that he had a visitor. He knew it was his betrayers come back to finish the job because he could identify them. Instead, it was the good Samaritan returning to check on him and pay for his care.
This kindly man sat down and gently assured him that he was safe. He spoke to him of a God who is Spirit. He said that an eye for an eye was outdated and had been replaced with a higher law: love your enemies. He talked of consecration and inspiration. He promised that doing good to others regardless of the treatment received was life-saving. He suggested that the man remove the anger and revenge from his own outlook so that he could get a holier view of those who had harmed him. As he got up to leave, he said he’d always be available to help.
The injured man was transformed. After that brief conversation, he was not only well but he was a new man, no longer conformed to his old life. He quickly arose and dressed, profusely thanked the innkeeper, and offered to repay him as soon as he could. The innkeeper said the bill had already been settled, but that perhaps, he could go and do likewise. He could pay it forward.
What a startling idea! Of course!
The man headed straight for the den of thieves in Jericho, not to confront them but to forgive them. His transformation and change of heart overwhelmed his betrayers and they were ashamed of their careless and unkind treatment of him. He left them to work out their own repentance, confident that they too would pay it forward.
What tenderness and compassion has been shown to you that you can share with others? What goodness has been instilled in you that you can let shine? Even if you have been badly wronged, how can you rewrite that story line so that it no longer consumes you and harms others? We can always choose for what happens next to be good, no matter what.
Here is a sweet statement from Mary Baker Eddy that pulls it all together: “In the order of wisdom, the higher nature of man governs the lower. This lays the foundations of human affection in line with progress, giving them strength and permanence.” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 287)
Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link. If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.