Misconceptions About Lackadaisical Living
“No harm, no foul.”
When you hear this phrase—I’m positive you have heard it before—what comes to your mind? A lot of people live in this headspace of “As long as I’m not the one causing any issues, I’m in the clear.” The more I contemplate this philosophy, however, the more I think: you’re just plain wrong. I don’t mean to be so blunt, but at the same time, I want to assert my point and explain what I mean firmly.
In Luke 10:25-37, Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan. This passage is something else you may have heard preached or taught many times before. I’m hoping that I will be able to shed a different kind of light on the situation. To refresh your memory, here is the story:
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “‘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.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” 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 was attacked by 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, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii 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” (NIV).
A priest and a Levite were people that had quite the connection to God. In Exodus, the Levites were called to be a priestly, holy, and royal nation. Explicitly, the priests had the privilege of serving as teachers and judges of God’s law. All the priests were known to be Levites, but not all Levites were priests. Those that did not serve as priests had duties and tasks to perform, such as taking care of the tabernacle and maintaining its furnishings. Nonetheless, they were all called by God.
Samaritans were a despised mixed-race people, intermarried with those of Assyria after being taken captive. The Jews opposed the Samaritans as they adopted certain Jewish traditions but neglected others and only accepted a few books of Moses. They were idolaters who worshipped other gods and took in Jewish criminals and refugees, creating more friction between the nations.
Now that you have a bit of background, think on this: In another article, I briefly talk about the importance of having faith because good deeds alone will not allow you to dwell with God forever. We have to be intentional about spreading the light and not just giving away resources and holding a door open for someone. But there is a flip side to that. The Word tells us that faith without any works at all is dead (James 2:14-26). We can believe in God, have a relationship with Him, but still not show His love and compassion.
There are so many times that we see tragedy, but we just pass it by, thinking, “Well, I didn’t cause the problem, so it’s not my issue to fix.” “I’m too busy with far greater things to stop in the middle of my mission.” “It might be rough, but if an awful situation is not my fault, I’m free to ignore it.” I have been guilty of this mindset before. Many people live that way today. Someone could be getting bullied or mistreated, yet we look away to avoid confrontation because it’s “not our business.” We aren’t directly involved, so no harm by us means no foul done. Right?
Just like the Levites, we tend to think that we are usually in the right with God. We read the Bible, pray, have communion with Him, journal, listen to worship, spread the Great Message when it’s convenient, and everything else a typical “Christian” should do. But what happens too often is that we fail to be the Body of Christ. So many opportunities come and go, and we miss the mark. The orphans and widows go unnoticed. We don’t stop on the side of the road and minister to the wounded in heart, soul, and spirit.
In hindsight, we end up living like the priest and Levite who passed the beaten man with no recollection that we ever did anything out of line. There have been plenty of instances where those who didn’t seem like the Godly type acted more out of a Christ-like manner than we have. What might that say about the followers of Jesus and our condition? Are we empathetic and sympathetic? Or are we apathetic yet think our names remain cleared?
Choosing to be unhelpful is harmful. Let us be more aware of our surroundings, realizing that just because we didn’t cause initial harm, our apathetic natures are not to be excused. I don’t mean we should not use wisdom and judgment for certain circumstances. We should be cautious when it’s necessary. Simply don’t let fear overrule obedience in loving our neighbors and being the hands and feet of Jesus.
Though undeservedly, the Lord is gracious to us even when may miss a step or two in our life with Him. His mercy is new every morning (Leviticus 3:22-23). He gives us second chances. I pray that we use these chances every time we wake. I pray we seek to be a priestly, holy, and royal nation. It is within our control to choose our responses, ways of thinking, and behavior. It is up to us to become like the Samaritan: kind, generous, compassionate.
The Lord has given us a far stronger weapon than any of those the enemy possesses: love. May we use that love to overcome our lackadaisical behaviors and attitudes to care for the sick and needy by volunteering at shelters, extending a meal every now and again, befriending those who are lonely, and visiting those who cannot leave their beds. May we spread it like wildfire and allow it to drip from our lips like honey when we speak to one another. And through these works of faith and love, may we grow deeper in intimacy with our Heavenly Father and connection with those around us.
Featured Image by Hectór Martínez