Three Philosophies of Life
When we consider the parable of The Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-36, we often focus on the noble Samaritan who helped the man who fell among thieves. This, of course, is the natural and appropriate approach to studying this parable. However, as with most other passages in the Bible, a closer look will reveal many more precious gems of truth waiting to be mined. When we take a closer look at the parable of The Good Samaritan, we find an interesting study concerning three philosophies of life demonstrated by the characters in the parable.

This philosophy maintains that "might makes right". The robbers were adherents to this philosophy. Let us turn our attention to Luke 10:30: "A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead."

The Iron Rule promotes violence and chaos as the strong prey off the weak. Though several practice this philosophy even today, you would be hard pressed to find many of that number who would want others to treat them in this manner (i.e., commit violence against them). Those who promote this way of life would do well to remember the words that Jesus spoke to Peter in Matthew 26:52: "all who take the sword will perish by the sword." In other words, those who live by violence will perish by violence.

This philosophy suggests, "Look out for self. Let the other fellow take care of his own concerns." The priest and Levite held this philosophy. They didn't physically harm the wounded traveler, but they didn't help him either! As we read in Luke 10:31,32: "Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side."

The Silver Rule promotes selfishness and apathy. Although this philosophy is probably more widespread than the Iron Rule, like the Iron Rule, few who practice this notion of "looking out for number one" are likely to want others to deal with them in this fashion (i.e., ignore them in their hour of need). This type of attitude is poignantly rebuked by the apostle in I John 3:17. He writes, "But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?" How indeed?

This philosophy instructs, "whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them" (Matt. 7:12). There is no better rule in life than this! Not only did the Samaritan believe this philosophy, he practiced it too! Observe the Golden Rule in action in Luke 10:33-35: "But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.'"

Make no mistake; the Golden Rule is the ideal. It promotes compassion and denial of self--qualities of a true neighbor. The Samaritan did unto another as he would have wanted done to him, and those today who practice this Golden Rule would not mind one bit if others treated them this way (i.e., helped them in their time of need). The Samaritan supplanted his own interests with those of another. Additionally, the Samaritan "went the extra mile" by having the innkeeper take care of the wounded traveler and promising to compensate the innkeeper. It is for these reasons that he is the hero of the story.

Dear friends, which character do you resemble the most? Do you bully others, relying on your strength and violence to get what you want? If so, you are no better than the robbers who are the villains in the parable. Do you ignore others in their hour of need, content to watch out only for yourself? If that is your case, you have much in common with the priest and the Levite who, because of their despicable selfishness, did nothing to help the wounded traveler. Or, are you doing your utmost to practice the Golden Rule like the Good Samaritan?