During a political election year, a tow truck driver was called to assist a woman who was stranded with a broken-down vehicle. But the truck driver, upon seeing a bumper sticker on the car for a candidate he disliked, informed the motorist that he wouldn’t help her and drove away. His actions remind me how we sometimes choose to ignore those who need our help.

Jesus told the parable of a “Jewish man . . . traveling from Jerusalem” who was “attacked by bandits.” They stripped the man naked, “beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road” (Luke 10:30). One would have thought help had arrived when a priest happened along the way. But the priest “crossed over to the other side of the road and passed him by” (Luke 10:31). As the heat of the day grew fierce and the bleeding man’s wounds festered, a temple assistant also traveled by the scene of the crime. He too “passed by on the other side” (Luke 10:32).

Next a Samaritan came along, the last person you would ever expect to help a Jew (the two people groups did not get along). Yet the “Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged him. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn” (Luke 10:34). The Samaritan paid for medical care out of his own pocket and made provision for everything the suffering man might need. “Which of these three would you say was a neighbor?” Jesus asked. Of course, the neighbor was the one who demonstrated tangible mercy. “Go and do the same,” Jesus said (Luke 10:36-37).

There are many ways to offer mercy to others, whether by a prayer, a conversation, or a gift. When we see a need, may we meet it as God provides. Let’s choose to do something other than pass by.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Jeremiah 36:1-32