In the early 1970s, Jim Croce wrote and recorded the beautiful song, Time in a Bottle. Those four simple words represent the desire to keep things as they exactly are at the moment… but for eternity. Sadly, there are circumstances in our life that we never want to keep in a bottle, some brought on by something we did or a decision we made. In contrast, others found their way to our doorstep without an invitation.

The Book of Ecclesiastes tells us that in the Lord’s plan, everything has a season… a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what was planted. As farmers and ranchers, we live by those sacred words. 

The biblical parable of the Good Samaritan tells of a Hebrew traveler who was severely beaten, robbed, and left to die on the side of the road. A holy man passed by and did nothing to help or acknowledge the victim’s plight. Then another man, a Samaritan, a group of people hated and despised by the Jews, stopped to help. He washed the injured man’s wounds the best he could, put him on his donkey, and took him to the nearest version of a hotel. The unknown Samaritan then gave the innkeeper money to care for the stranger that, in another situation, would have shunned him.

To reassure the innkeeper, the Samaritan proclaimed that any additional expenses would be satisfied on his journey home. The Samaritan wanted to ensure no effort was spared in the victim’s recovery. Today we identify a stranger that rises to a challenge to assist someone they do not know as a Good Samaritan.

The Lord gifts all of us with time, talent, and treasures (resources) to varying degrees. The question then becomes, what do we do with our money, abilities, and the days of our life?

Taking poetic license to the parable of the Good Samaritan, it was very likely that he was not well-off since he was traveling alone and probably budgeted some money to continue his journey, believing he would glean additional resources when he left to go back home. He was confident that he could satisfy any expense incurred by the innkeeper then.

The story ends there, so the final outcome is never known; it is not essential.

The Samaritan, without hesitation, used his time, ability, and resources for the situation at hand without considering the long-term impact on himself.

The natural man (or woman), especially in today’s “live for yourself, I got mine” world is in stark contrast to the story of the Samaritan. He would be viewed as a fool or simpleton now. Time is precious, one’s talents are meant to be monetized, and your money is for your pleasure and wants. Turn your head and keep walking. It is not your problem.

There is not a person that does not have regrets from the past. I am not implying that you should not have had the fifth slice of pizza, and maybe the black car was the wrong choice since it is so hard to keep clean. Those are not regrets but decisions that do not impact how you use the gifts referenced previously or a measure of your character. 

Regrets are the times we choose to turn our head and keep walking. Protecting our time, talents, and treasures for ourselves. We have all done it.

I am not suggesting that you stand on the street corner and give out $100.00 bills or rally to every plea that falls on your ears. In most instances, your eyes and heart will be able to decern the gravity of the situation and the level of response that is required. Giving your time or compassion is often much more important than any treasure you may own.

A smile to a person that needs it, a simple thank you or volunteering to sincerely pray for a stranger all fall under the Good Samaritan heading. The key is to see a need and respond to it in any way you can and expect nothing in return.

It does not stop there, though. If you are a believer, you will know that the Scriptures tell us that the Lord loves his entire creation. Are you the holy man that walks by an animal in need? Are you stingy with your time, talent, and treasures toward your pets or farm animals, and do not respect and honor their lives? Do you turn your back to a neighbor who is abusive to the animals in his care, saying it is none of your business, and do not report them to the authorities? 

Do you have money for an $80K new pick-up truck that you want but do not need but would never consider buying a $45,000 version and doing good with the leftover $35K? Then, you will still have the truck you require. 

I hesitate to write this because it is only an anecdotal observation. 

We all have been aware of an elderly person in a hospital that is dying, and no one comes to see them. The staff does what they must but never befriend or comfort them beyond that. In contrast, others in the same circumstances are surrounded by love on their last days. Was one the Good Samaritan and the other the holy man in their healthier days? I do not know.

What I do know without reservation is if you do your best to be a Good Samaritan when the opportunity is placed in front of your eyes, life will be richer than any amount of wealth can provide. 

The things of this world pass away… but the goodness of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and a Samaritan’s heart goes on for eternity. 

No regrets.

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