One of the most well-known parables in the Bible is the account of the Good Samaritan.
Jesus, in a response to the question “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” describes a situation in which a man has been robbed and left for dead on the side of the road.
Two religious leaders of Israel – a Priest and a Levite – disregard the man on their journey to the Temple, but a Samaritan stopped, wrapped up his wounds, paid for a room, and nursed him back to health. Some have defended the religious leaders by suggesting their minds were simply attuned to the religious duties or spiritual matters of the temple, making it difficult to be distracted by someone in need.
In the 1970’s, Darley and Batson attempted to recreate the Good Samaritan parable to determine if people would stop and help or walk by an injured man. The researchers had three hypotheses they tested for:
- People thinking religious, “helping” thoughts would still be no more likely than others to offer assistance.
- People in a hurry will be less likely to offer aid than others.
- People who are religious in a Samaritan fashion will be more likely to help than those of a priest or Levite fashion. In other words, people who are religious for what it will gain them will be less likely than those who value religion for its own value or are searching for meaning in life.[i]
The researchers recruited seminary students to participate in a religious experiment. After initial personality testing, the students were divided into two groups, each tasked with preparing a presentation to deliver to their classmates. The topic the first group was assigned was “seminary jobs”, while the other group was given the topic of the Good Samaritan parable. The other significant variable was that some were told they were late for the presentation; others were instructed they had a few minutes to stroll over to class.
On the way to class, students encountered a slumped-over man in an alleyway who was coughing and moaning. Participants were evaluated based on a six-point grading scale: failing to notice the victim earned them a zero; refusing to leave the victim’s side until he got well earned them a five.
Those who were assigned the topic of the Good Samaritan were more likely to stop than those who were given another subject to preach on. However, the variable that significantly determined whether a person stopped or kept going was time. Individuals who were not in a hurry helped 63% of the time, as compared to those in a hurry, who stopped only 10% of the time.[ii]
In summary, a believer who is in a hurry to present on the parable of the Good Samaritan is less likely to stop and help others. Some of the participants even stepped over the injured victim in their attempt to make it on time to class.
No Time for Making Disciples
It’s not that they didn’t care about the person. Maybe the reason they disregarded the victim in need is because they were consumed by their own world and their own agenda.
As I’m been in the business of making disciples, I’ve noticed that their reasoning for not making disciples is remarkably similar: they have no time. Even if it is not necessarily true in your life, the fact cannot be avoided that people today are more busy than ever before. Indeed, the enemy doesn’t just need to make us mad or bad; he just keeps us busy.
Time is the most evenly distributed resource on the planet: every person has the same amount of it. The problem is with how we allocate our time. Either your schedule manages you or you manage your schedule.
What if I offered you $86,400 dollars today to spend on whatever you desire… with just one stipulation—you have to spend all the money today. What’s left over will be forever lost. You cannot carry over today’s money to tomorrow. Could you do it? Most reading this are nodding their heads right now. “Of course, I could spend it.” Amazon packages would be primed and ready for shipping. You may select purses, PS4 games, iPads, watches, cars, and clothes. The list would be endless in your quest to spend every last penny you were given.
After your spending frenzy, I show up the next day to proposition you with another offer, “Today, I am giving you the same offer. Here is a check for $86,400 dollars to spend on whatever you want. However, the same stipulations apply. Whatever you fail to spend will be wasted forever.” Could you do it two days in a row? Of course you could. Stock investments, debt retirement, and savings accounts would be filled with money.
Every day of your life God gives you 86,400 seconds to live. You are free to spend them in whatever manner you wish. However, when they’re gone, they’re gone, so spend them wisely. Once they are gone, they’re gone.
Strike while the Irons Hot
Don’t miss the opportunity you have to launch a D-Group in January. You may not be convinced of the necessity of meeting in a weekly, gender exclusive group for a year to eighteen months. That is understandable, because I have been there, too! But the importance of investing in others was solidified in my life when I understood that there are only three things in this world that are eternal: God, His Word, and the souls of men and women. The time you invest in others will pay eternal dividends, not only in their life but yours as well.
The great cricket player-turned-missionary, C.T. Studd sums it up, “Only one life ’twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
Spend your life wisely.
You only get one.