“Good Samaritan” is a common term used to describe volunteers who go above and beyond to help after a disaster. There’s even a Good Samaritan law in every state to help protect uncompensated volunteers spontaneously providing aid in emergency situations.
The parable of the Good Samaritan, from which this term gets its name, is one of the most told and taught parables in the Bible. Found in the Gospel of Luke (10:25-37), it offers an example of how to love God, embrace strangers as neighbors, and help others in need.
The past few weeks have brought disaster preparedness and care back into particular focus for churches in Florida and Texas, and it’s been brought onto the radar for churches everywhere. Whether their church is within the zone of impact or outside of it, leaders are wondering how to respond. A closer look at the Good Samaritan parable can provide inspiration and guidance for Christians seeking to help in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.
Know your motivation
Before volunteering, stop and ask yourself why you want to help. The telling of the Good Samaritan parable was sparked by an interaction Jesus had with an expert of the law. This expert wanted to know how to earn eternal life. Jesus redirected the conversation, shifting his thinking from “What’s in it for me?” to “How can I love God and others well?” Help because of your faith, not to prove your faith.
Disaster relief is not about you. Volunteer to meet the needs of survivors, not to satisfy your own extrinsic needs (e.g., to be seen as a do-gooder). Make sure you are helping for the right reasons. Good reasons for wanting to help should be inwardly motivated: you want to help others for the sake of helping others. You want to help because you believe it’s the right thing to do.