When we receive a new heart to love God, it will be seen in our actions to others.

I’d like to read from the Scriptures a very familiar story. Sometimes when we hear familiar stories, we get a little disappointed. We think the speaker isn’t going to tell us anything new. Perhaps you won’t hear anything new, but it never harms to peek around the corner of a verse to see who is standing in the shadows, smell the smells, and see the colors. I hope you’re going to do that with the story of the Good Samaritan.

Jesus had been challenged by a young lawyer who came to him and said, “Teacher, you tell me what I have to do to inherit eternal life.”

In response Jesus said, “You have to love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and all your strength, and your neighbor as yourself.”

The young man wanted to justify himself, so he said to Jesus Christ, “So who is my neighbor?”

Jesus told him, “A certain man was going from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among thieves. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going by. When he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. And a Levite did the same, when he saw the man. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was. And when he saw him, he took pity on him. (Or he had compassion on him.) He went to him, bandaged his wounds, and poured on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey. He took him to an inn.

“The next day the Samaritan took out two silver coins, and said to the innkeeper, ‘You take care of him. When I return, I’ll reimburse you for any extra expense.’ ”

“Which of these three,” said Jesus, “do you think was neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

“Well,” the expert in the law replied “the one who had mercy on him.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do thou likewise.”

Our sinful hearts keep us from loving God

I want to talk to you about loving God. Many people want to love God, but they don’t know how. Many people don’t know how to love each other or to receive love from other people. If we don’t know how to give love or receive love, then we cannot experience all that God wants us to have.

When we talk about loving God, we have a problem. It’s a very simple problem. We have a problem with our heart, the part of us God made to be able to love. I remember my mom used to get very cross with me when I suggested that the Bible said that man was born with a sinful heart, as if he had a bias within him.

In my country, England, we play a game called “bowls.” When you’re too old to run around the block or play tennis or racquetball, you can still go to these lovely green lawns and bowl a little ball called a jack. You send it as far and as straight as you can. Then you take a big bowling ball with a spot on it. You aim the big ball at the little jack. The problem is there’s a bias inside the big ball. However straight you aim it, it always goes to the right or to the left. So the game isn’t quite so simple as you think.

By: Jill Briscoe