The scribe approached Jesus with a question, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” When Jesus asked how he would answer, the scribe replied, “Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus told him, “You have answered correctly.” Having the right answer was not enough for this man who wanted to justify himself, so then he asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”
I think this man probably was very generous toward his fellow Israelites – to those who lived and thought like he did. He wanted Jesus to pat him on the back and wish him well as he sent him on his way. He wanted to gain confirmation for what he already believed so he could continue in self-righteousness. Instead of commendation, Jesus challenged his thinking and his heart.
Who is my neighbor? My answer reveals the extent to which God’s love has penetrated my heart. I imagine the scribe in this account would do his duty, but he was not motivated by the kind of love God has for us. He wouldn’t go out of his way or use his money or time for someone he considered a distraction from his “real” purpose. Ironically, the Samaritan, whose actions aptly fit the description of neighbor would be considered inferior by those listening to the words of Jesus. Contrary to public opinion of the day, Jesus portrayed the Samaritan as the hero of the story because of his sacrificial love.
Do I want life as Jesus promises or do I want to be right? When researchers approach a topic to study, they consider something called confirmation bias which is seeing information through a certain lens that agrees with what the researcher already believes to be true. I can fall into this pattern as I listen to teachings, read books, or even study God’s word. As Jesus demonstrated to the scribe, abundant life is not characterized by how much I know but how much I love.
I found this quote by an unknown source, “ The difference between a wise man and a fool is not that the wise man is right and the fool is wrong but that the fool always assumes himself right and the wise man wonders if he would be wrong.”
Lord, instead of having the right answer, I desire humility, a teachable spirit and to be a conduit of your boundless love to whomever you bring into my life.