Life At Its Best: Don't miss an opportunity to help

You don't have to look far to find people in need. There are people all around living with the absence of the physical, the relational and the spiritual. The need often seems so much greater than the ability or resources we have to meet it. And, on a large scale, it is. One person can't meet the world's needs - but we can all make a difference for someone.

Luke 10 teaches us how to respond well to the needs of others. In it, Jesus tells a parable about a man who got attacked by a band of robbers. They stripped him, beat him, and left him half-dead on the roadside.

Soon after, a priest came by. He saw the man lying on the ground but was too busy to stop. Instead, he crossed to the other side and continued on his way. Later, a Levite came by. He, too, saw the man on the side of the road, but he, too, did not stop to help.

Finally, a Samaritan man walked by. The Bible says, "When he saw him, he took pity on him. He went and bandaged his wounds." Notice, the Samaritan, priest, and Levite all saw the man in need, but only the Samaritan took advantage of his opportunity to help. Why?

It wasn't because he was "holier" or somehow better than the other two. The priest and Levite were both men who served in God's House. But it was the Samaritan who was able to meet the need because he'd learned to respond well to the opportunities presented him.

God's called each of us to do the same. It can be easy to play the role of the priest or Levite. Life gets busy. We have places to go and responsibilities to fulfill. But we must be careful not to let our busyness cause us to bypass those God's asking us to bless.

Hebrews 13:16 says, "Don't neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God." There are people all around us in need. We may not be able to change the whole world, but we can change our piece of it. Like the Samaritan, we can learn to maximize our opportunity to help others.

Doing so starts with having a discerning heart. We often miss opportunities not because we're unwilling, but because we're unaware. In order to meet needs, we first must learn to see them.

Ask God to open your eyes to the needs of others. Be careful not to let routine distract you. Let God help you see people and situations the way He does.

Then, live with a devoted heart. The Bible says that after the Samaritan saw the man's need, "He went." Awareness of a need isn't enough; we must let our awareness lead us to action.

This new year, strive to take advantage of the opportunities around you. Do what you can with what God's given you. Let 2014 be the year He uses you to help others like never before.

Jim Graff is the Senior Pastor of Faith Family Church in Victoria. Visit faithfamilyvictoria.com.