The story of the Good Samaritan is such a well-known story that people who have never stepped foot in a church get the reference. Even if people don’t know the details, most people associate it with a person who does an act of kindness to a stranger.
For those of us who have spent a decent amount of time in churches and bible studies, who have been around this Jerusalem to Jericho block dozens if not hundreds of times, we know deep details to the story by now. We may not have overturned every rock of truth. There are still layers we could learn, but we know this story. The question has always been, will we live it? Or maybe the more pertinent question remains, why don’t we live it more often?
A famous study took place several decades ago in which researches set out to test what factors contributed to whether or not seminary students (those training for ministry) would stop and render aid to a person in obvious and audible distress on their way to giving a speech. From their tests, the biggest factor as how one responded to a person in need was not knowledge of the importance of compassion, but time. These students knew the story of the Good Samaritan. Some were tasked to speak about it as they passed by a person in need, yet that made no difference as to whether or not they stopped to help. Only those who did not feel time pressure stopped to render aid.
To grow in compassion, we may need to reexamine our calendars. We must carve out time for care. We also need to grow in interruptibility. Most of us need to flex our schedules, even if it’s only a few minutes a day, so that if God shows up, we actually have time for him.