Just Do It

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Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:36-37

“Just Do It” is the slogan of Nike, which encourages action and effort. In life, difficult tasks may be accomplished and obstacles overcome, but one must start. Jesus taught the lawyer in the parable of the Good Samaritan that the “paralysis of analysis” accomplishes nothing. It is when people of faith and good will demonstrate their faith by their works that they prove the authenticity of their passion for God and compassion for people.

The lawyer asked Jesus what he needed to “do” in order to inherit eternal life. The answer is to love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind; and also to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus told him, “Do this and you will live.” Just do it.

The lawyer wanted to justify himself, so he asked another question, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus’ answer introduces us to a priest and a Levite who both passed by their fellow Jewish brother who’d been robbed and beaten. Perhaps they had rational reasons for their inaction. The Samaritan was the racial and religious enemy of the Jew, yet he risked personal safety and demonstrated compassion and mercy on the fallen Jewish traveler. Too much analysis can paralyze us. The longer we wait, the narrower our definition of “neighbor” becomes, making it more likely we will do nothing.

There are many people ready to become reconcilers and do what is right, because in their hearts they know what is right. But they hesitate, waiting for someone else to make the first move—and in turn, someone else is waiting for them.

This is a little story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

Walter Harvey

PONDER: What action toward reconciliation are you hesitant to do? Why?

* * *

Jan’s Story

In the past I never would have thought that I was guilty of racial prejudice. I was raised in a loving home with strong morals and an expectation to be good and kind to all people. That’s who I am. I’ve lived my entire adult life in the suburbs, doing helpful things for my community and church. I was a Brookfield soccer mom, but certainly did not see myself as a bigot. I was an educator, nurturing and teaching children to become responsible citizens of our world. Yes, I had fears and suspicions about “those” people living in “those” neighborhoods, but I was kind in any encounters. I believed I was not prejudiced and would have been deeply hurt and angered if anyone had ever accused me of it.

The past ten years I have found myself in the midst of urban issues as my professional role has put me right in the middle of the central city of Milwaukee. Poverty, unemployment, lack of safe housing, addiction, teen pregnancy, violence, drugs, homicides, and gangs—these are the things that stare me in the face every day when I go to work. I love my work, as difficult as it is, and it is there that my biases were unveiled.

What have I learned the past ten years? That I don’t want to have racial prejudice, but I do. It’s not enough to just like people (which I’m good at). I must value them the way God values them, desiring for all people the same opportunities that I have had. For years I had the same thoughts as many who have said, “If ‘they’ would just get a job.” “If ‘they’ would stop having children out of wedlock.” “If ‘they’ would just respect authority.” I have learned that there cannot be “they” in my thinking process anymore. We all started from Adam and Eve. “We” are family. “They” are my family. “They” are “us.” It is what the Bible has taught all along, and it is the starting place for change in our world.

Jan Whittow had a career as an elementary educator, has worked at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission, and now directs James Place 30th Street.

Comments welcome below.

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4 thoughts on “Just Do It”

  1. I am hesitant because I know in my heart, that I haven’t done anything to the person, but they say that I did and they know that they have judged my wrong. The story is a sought of a long one, that stretches back in time, but hopefully one day it will be resolved. I had reconciled to the individual once before, and now the same issue has come up again,and I played no part in it.How should I handle the issue?

    1. Perhaps 2 steps might lead you to a third. Consider what it was that occurred previously to bring about reconciliation. Also consider the words of Jesus.

      Matthew 18:21-22New American Standard Bible (NASB).

      21 Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

      Ask God to direct your third step.

  2. Father, my passion for your kingdom is strong and authentic in every way, may my passion for you be evident in my compassion for others…
    Lord Jesus, I am ready to become your reconciler, you have transformed my heart to know and do what is right in your eyes and I will not hesitate or wait for someone else to take the first step, I will take the lead as you did in reconciling my heart back to you…
    Holy Spirit, you have equipped me, gifted me and called me, I am your “pointman” my faith will not be based on someone else taking the first step, I will not hesitate when you have made it all too clear that I’m to take the lead and do what needs to be done, because the simple truth is;
    For me to ignore the responsibility and conviction “You” have placed on my heart is an act of sin and rebellion…

  3. This parable is about salvation and our inability to “just do it” in every situation as only Jesus can. It teaches us to realize our own self-righteousness and admit who we are, sinners in need of a savior.

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