Updated: Apr 7
Whenever I read the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), what strikes me the most is that he wasn’t the one who was “supposed” to help.
He wasn’t the richest.
He wasn’t the right ethnicity.
He wasn’t even the first person who noticed the injured man’s plight.
But he was the one who stopped.
In a situation where everyone else assumed someone else would take care of it, he stepped up to the plate and actually did.
While the modern usage of a “Good Samaritan” typically refers to an act of kindness by a stranger, I think there is more there. It is not just helping someone when it is convenient for you, makes financial sense, or increases your social standing.
Being a Good Samaritan is helping when you see a need. Even if you’re not the most qualified. Even if you’re not sure how your help will be accepted. Even if you think, “Surely, someone else has noticed this problem and will be right back to help.”
Just like the Good Samaritan, you could be the only one.
National Good Samaritan Day is March 13th. It is a day we remember the death of Catherine "Kitty" Genovese in 1964. Kitty was murdered near her home and even though she screamed for help and many people were reported to have heard her, no one came to her aide.
Everyone thought someone else would step forward and be Kitty's Good Samaritan.
But no one did.
While kindness and helping those in need cannot be (and isn’t) limited to just one day a year, it is a good day to recognize the help you have personally received, as well as introduce and discuss with your family the needs in your community and around the world.
How to be a Good Samaritan
When encouraging your family to look for ways to be a Good Samaritan, here are some simple concepts to remember:
“Let me know if I can help” doesn’t cut it here. Because chances are, no one is going to let you know if you can help. But if you offer something specific, you are much more likely to be received with acceptance.
“May I take your garbage to the curb for you?” Or “Can I bring you a meal tomorrow night?” means the person you are trying to help doesn’t have to think of something for you to do. They just have to say yes or no. (Or offer an alternative way for you to help, but your initial offer gives them a frame of reference).
This may seem redundant: Good Samaritan Day is a whole day devoted to being helpful. If it is an emergency situation (and maybe you’ve already called for emergency services and you’re waiting for them to arrive), keep calm. It does not help any situation to add more panic.
Do not offer idle advice when action is needed (sharing how an accident could have been avoided does not help, but calling 911, making sure everyone is out of the road and safe, and offering words of reassurance DOES help).
Let me be clear: I do not mean that you should say over and over, “I know I’m not the most qualified” or “I’m sorry that I am not a professional” or any other phrase that somehow indicates your help is less than another’s would be.
I do mean: know your limits. Do not offer advice or help that you have no knowledge to back up.
For example, I would be more than happy to help a young mom on the side of the road with a broken-down car, but I am the least mechanically minded person there is. So my help would probably be an offer to call assistance, the reassurance of safety in numbers of another mom with kids, and helping to ensure their immediate safety. I won’t be the one looking under the hood or pulling out a toolkit.
Sometimes, people just don’t want help. If your attempts have been met with hostility or an emphatic “no”, respect that; it’s okay to walk away.
The exception to that, of course, would be in the case of imminent bodily harm to anyone involved. And do not be discouraged; do not think that just because one attempt was met with resistance and opposition, that all your gestures of kindness will be met that way. They won’t.
Today, be the good in the world!
No one is asking you to be a savior. What we are asking is that today, be kind. See the people around you and offer assistance.
Not sure where to start? We'd love for you to join us in bringing an end to homelessness.
About the author:
Laura Schofield is teaching her kids to be world changers. In between homeschooling three kiddos, being a military spouse, and running QuietDaysMagazine.com, you’ll find her quilting, cooking, reading, and spending time with friends.