Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
“By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.
“Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’
“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.
The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” – Luke 10:30–37
Have you ever heard of the “zero-interest principle”? It is the principle that guides people to give without ever wanting or receiving anything in return. Many people would say that it is a crazy principle because we always do something for others with the expectation of gaining something in return. Yet, the story Luke records for us is one of a Samaritan who lives the zero-interest principle.
Let’s think about the story that Jesus told. What reason did the Samaritan have for investing in this person? What would it cost him? What was the return he was looking for? If we are honest with ourselves as we hear the story of the good Samaritan, we don’t buy into it fully, do we? However, Jesus felt it was essential for us to view our relationships with others as well as our view of our possessions through the lens of the Samaritan.
As followers of Jesus, we should strive to be famous for our compassion, service, and generosity. The earliest days of our movement were marked by people known for the way we personally invested in the mission. We were touching the lives of people, and that was the difference maker. Individual followers gave their time, service, and their wealth because the only thing they desired was for one more to come and follow Jesus.
The Samaritan, by the standards of the world, threw his money away and wasted his time. The point could be made that he risked being in the same condition if the robbers returned as he made his way back to care for the injured man. Thankfully for the wounded man, the Samaritan’s extravagantly generous heart was willing to take risks to see that he was nurtured back to health.
You and I are called to be the most extravagantly generous people in our community because Jesus has always been generous with us. It’s time that we embrace the “zero-interest principle”.