It is truly amazing how many people we all interact with every day without thinking about it. The amount of people we could be impacting is astronomical, depending on the type of job you have, the way you travel to and from work, and the size of the place you live in. If you life in a large city like New York or Tokyo and you ride the subways you will probably interact with a very large number of people every day. But if you stay at home, the numbers will be fewer.
Regardless of the way we live our lives, unless you live on a deserted island, we all intact at some level with a lot of people. How many of those are you able to influence, or make their lives better somehow? We all have the opportunities. The question is do we make use of them? For the most part we are probably focused completely on what we need to be doing and not at all on the people we meet, unless they get in our way.
Just like the story of the good Samaritan found in Luke 10 we have opportunities to enrich the lives of those we meet. In the story a man gets severely beaten and robbed, and 4 people meet him on the road. Two were religious leaders, something like our pastors and priests today. Men who were supposed to be interested in the welfare of others. And like us they had a schedule to keep, and were not interested in stopping. The third man was a lawyer, and the fourth was the Samaritan. From the story we can all learn to do several things which we can use to open the doors to seeing God do things in our lives and through our lives each and every day.
Like the good Samaritan we need to
1. Pay attention.
We are too often pre-occupied with all that we need to get done and sometimes the unintended result is that we don’t notice the person or the need right in front of us. We go through our day, thinking about what we are doing, how far behind we are, or how difficult our life is right now and we miss out completely on opportunities to impact people. I am always impressed with how Jesus paid attention and noticed people. And when he was with them, he wasn’t distracted. He was fully present.
So, this week ask God to help you notice people and needs. And, work at paying attention. Look people in the eye. Listen more carefully. Pay a little more attention to the people around each of us. You will be amazed at what you may see.
2. Slow down.
If I am going to do a better job of noticing, I must learn to slow down. I can’t always be in a hurry.
Sometimes this is about my hurried step and sometimes it is about a hurried spirit. It’s just a fact of life that the slower you go the more you can notice.
We all have a schedule that is to full, and life only seems to be getting busier. But it is a choice we all need to make to be able to push back our time tables and recapture some time in our day so that we aren’t always needing to be pushed to the limits. A great book on how to do this is “Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives” by
Richard Swenson. Once we have some margin we can actually breath and see opportunities to reach people
3. Be courageously compassionate.
Slowing down and paying attention is a good start, but it isn’t enough. In the story of the Good Samaritan, the priest noticed the man in need but he didn’t engage his need. The important thing we need to keep in mind is not whether we noticed the people around us but whether we courageously engage with them with compassion and action.
This is the essence of the Great Commission. Jesus was instructing His followers to go into their worlds. And as we go about our daily lives, reach into the lives of those we meet and influence them, and make disciples. Reach out to the people we meet, and impact them making their lives a little better somehow, and pray for opportunities to share the hope that you have.