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The title of this article is Three Views of Life.

One of the most familiar parables in the Bible is the story of the “Good Samaritan” in Luke 10:30-37. It is amazing how relevant that parable is to what is going on in the world today. In the parable there are three views of life demonstrated by Jesus. The first view is, “What's yours is mine, so I'll take it,” represented by the robbers. The second view is, “What's mine is mine and I'll keep it,” represented by a priest and a Levite. The third view is, “What's mine is yours, so I'll share it,” represented by a Samaritan.


Cute little boy reaching for the cookies on the shelf

The robbers in the parable are different from some of today's robbers in that what they did was condemned by their society. In today's world, the underlying philosophy of “what's yours is mine, so I'll take it” is embodied in the way people apply the concept of “survival of the fittest.” Stealing with computers is commonplace in our world today. People in the music business will tell you that society as a whole accepts the notion that it is okay to steal from their creative ability in music. Those who are more fit in their computer skills use computers for personal gain at the expense of others. Computer scams are a threat to all of us, especially those who are older and lack the skills needed to avoid having things stolen from them.

This applies to so many areas of our lives. Robbers use computers to damage someone's reputation (Proverbs 22:1), take advantage of someone's age or inability to understand financial schemes, or to cheat on their taxes (Romans 13:6-7). The modern-day view is that it is okay if you can get away with it. Many of us have been scammed in everything from time-shares to insurance promises by those who live by this view of life.


A little girl hiding some candies in her hands.

The real villains in this parable are religious leaders. The priest and the Levite both knew what the Law of Moses taught, but they used their religion to hang on to what they had. They did their giving only when there were spectators. Jesus talked about that in Matthew 6:1-4. The priest and the Levite did not want to get their hands dirty, lose time, and get involved financially by helping a fellow Jew. Like some religious people today, they covered their selfishness with a holy pretense. Some have said that Satan is okay with God's people just doing nothing bad as long as they do not do much that is good. James 4:17 goes further by telling us that what the priest and the Levite did was sinful. In the judgment scene of Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus portrays salvation and condemnation as at least partially involved with what we do in situations where we can help someone.


Cute two- and three- year-old boy and girl sharing a milk shake

It is easy to miss much of what is embedded in this parable. One thing we miss is the significance of the fact that the man who helped the injured Jew was a Samaritan. In John 4:7-9 we see Jesus talking with a Samaritan woman. She expresses amazement that Jesus would speak to her because she was a woman, and in that culture, men did not talk to women in public. More than that, she was a Samaritan, and the Bible comments, “For the Jews do not associate with Samaritans.” In our day of racial prejudice and ethnic conflict it should be easy to see that Jesus making a Samaritan the hero of his parable would have been shocking to his Jewish listeners. Jesus presented the parable so well that the “expert on the law” drew the obvious conclusion without even reacting to the fact it was a Samaritan who rescued the injured Jewish man.

“What's mine is yours” is the Christian view of life. Christians believe that everything they have is God's, and sharing it has always been part of the Christian faith. Nowhere does the New Testament tell Christians a fixed percent or amount they must give. Instead, it tells us that “each of you should give, … not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). As an atheist, it was always hard for me to understand how Christians could do so much without being forced to do so. My family's view of life was survival of the fittest. Reducing your fitness by giving to someone else was unheard of.

Two preschool brothers dig into a large bowl of strawberry-cheesecake ice cream

Unfortunately, in recent years some religious leaders have used pressure techniques to force people to give. The biblical view is “God gave this to me, and I WANT to share it with you.” We see the model of this view in Acts 2:44-45 where “All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” This is what they wanted to do, not what they were pushed to do. In Acts 4:32-37 Joseph (Barnabas) sold property and turned the entire proceeds over to the apostles to meet the needs. He was known as “the son of encouragement” because he practiced the joy of sharing and giving which was part of his view of life.


Our culture tells us we must gain all we can and keep it. We have security systems, all kinds of insurance, and a constant push to buy “toys” ranging from boats to airplanes to time-shares to artwork to jewelry to luxurious homes. “Whoever has the most toys wins” is simply a statement of “what's mine is mine and I'll keep it.” Survival of the fittest becomes our moral standard, or perhaps we should say, the lack of a moral standard. Tragically it affects how you treat your spouse, your children, your friends, and your neighbors. Jesus would urge us to be the good Samaritan of his parable, and find the joy and fulfillment it brings to life. The other views bring misery and alienation in this life, and nothing to hope for when this life is over.

— John N. Clayton

Picture credits:
© Kwanchai.c. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.
© Rangizzz. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.
© diego cervo. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.
© HughStoneIan. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.
© HughStoneIan. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.

Scripture links/references are from BibleGateway.com. Unhighlighted scriptures can be looked up at their website.