Have You Ever Tried To Explain The Good Samaritan To Your Kids?

love one another

Every single night (let me rephrase that: EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT.) Asa wants to read “the Bible that doesn’t have any words” before bed. He usually picks out “Goli-lith”, Daniel and the Lions Den or “When Jesus died on da’ cross”. But the past few nights he’s picked The Good Samaritan.

I like this story. It’s a classic, often-used story to help people understand that we should love and help others. We should emulate the Good Samaritan and be nice to everyone we see.

But really, have you ever tried to explain this one to a kid? Because after my conversation with the kids the other night, I think there is more to this story than “be kind” or “love your neighbor”.

Lydia and Asa asked why the priest and Levite wouldn’t stop. They said, “I thought they loved God and obeyed the rules.” I told them, “Well, yeah. But these were the same guys who crucified Jesus. They loved being in charge and following rules more than they loved God.”

In fact, I just read a fictional book with this account (Stones of Jerusalem by Bodie Thoene: SO GOOD!) and they suggested one reason the priest didn’t stop was because he assumed the man was nearly dead and didn’t want to defile himself. He chose to honor the command to be ceremonially clean over HELPING someone!

I try to get my kids to follow God’s RULES every day. How does it look when you are ignoring rules for love?!  I try to keep my kids so protected from sin, how do I tell them to love people in the midst of sin?!

How do you bring this to a child’s level? It’s ok if your friend is disobedient to his mom, cusses and watches bad things on TV. You still need to love him and be kind and helpful toward him?!

How do I bring this to my level? It’s ok if one of my friends is sleeping with his girlfriend–I can still have them over for dinner and let them hang out with and influence my kids. YIKES.

It gets worse. Then we started talking about the Samaritan. The real sucker-punch of this story is not that someone stopped and helped the man. It’s that the man who stopped was a Samaritan! “Good” Jews would spit at the mere thought of a Samaritan! They’d take a longer route to avoid Samaria. To a Jew, a Samaritan was the same as…uhm…I don’t know, a militant jihad-ist or a white supremacist would be to us.

And this is the guy that helped out!

So, I should be that same way? Giving money, food, time and LOVE to a Muslim jihad-ist? a white supremacist? a friend that is immoral and proud of it? a peer that speaks crudely in front of my kids?

This is a hard one for me. I grew up in church. I equate many “rules” in my life to Biblical rules. I’m on the conservative side so I think “God said to treat our bodies as His temple. Therefore, smoking is a sin.” So, when I look at someone who smokes I assume they are sinning and not loving God. I am looking for rules, lines in the sand and black-and-white truth.

(You know I’m using hyperbole, right?)

On the other hand, a liberal person might say, “The Bible doesn’t say anything about smoking! It doesn’t say anything about our lungs! God made tobacco. It doesn’t control me. I serve God with my whole life, this has nothing to do with my spiritual walk.” They accept freedom in Christ’s grace.

john 1:14

How do I show my children to live in grace AND truth? How do I show that I live in grace and truth? Not the balance–but the full measure of grace and truth that God has?

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

My pastor has been speaking on grace-and-truth and loving your neighbor and being a disciple of Jesus for the past 7 weeks. Coupled with explaining the Good Samaritan to my kids, it’s made me evaluate how I live.

Do I show love to people? Or do I show love to rules?

Do I show love to everyone? Or just the people who are like me (in beliefs, walk of life, interests)?

Do I follow Jesus? Or do I follow what-I-think-Jesus-followers-should-do?

So, now that I’m getting to the end of this post and my thoughts, I’m left with exactly what I said at the beginning. I think this story is more than “love your neighbor” and “be kind”. But it’s not. When Jesus finished telling the story he simply told his listeners, “Go and do likewise.” Go and do likewise. Go and love everyone. Go and be kind and helpful to everyone.

Do the hard thing. Love the hard person. Give to the hard place.

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Romans 13:8–9

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:34–35

Who knew bedtime stories could be so taxing?! So, what do you think? I’d love to hear your insight!

bible craft

ps–Are you following the Yancy Blog Tour? Super fun!

bench photo by heart and soul reflections. text by me.


  1. Ooooh, that is difficult! I’m right there with you on seeking to teach grace and truth. Last week my husband was talking about that verse, and noted how he thought the order of those two words (grace… truth) was important. So often we try to get to the truth without the grace.
    Thanks for sharing your heart!

  2. Teronya says:

    Great post! Two passages this brings to mind: 1) Matthew 5:17-19: “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.” , and 2)Romans 8:1-2: “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” I think this means that yes, we must share and teach “Truth”, but with the understanding that when we belong to Christ, there is no longer “condemnation” when we don’t measure up because we now live by the power of the Holy Spirit, under Grace. 🙂

  3. Wow. I think you are right on target. This is especially true in my profession as a marriage and family counselor. Many times clients come in in the midst of a perpetual sin. As a Christian counselor, some would say I shouldn’t accept such clients, but for me, I think its especially my job to love these clients and point them to Christ.

    Thanks for the encouragement today.


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