The Innkeeper in Us All

The bloodied and broken man is slung across the concave back of an ass and carried in this way to the door of an innkeeper. The master of the ass presses a coin purse into the innkeeper’s hand and leaves with the promise that if the expense taken to restore the invalid exceeds the purse’s weight, he will be repaid.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, our focus is often directed to the Samaritan. But what about the innkeeper? Did he indeed go above and beyond to restore the man found on the wayside? Many of us acknowledge that we must love and serve our neighbour—but to what extent? Must we only do what is obvious? Or should we go further, as the Samaritan invited the innkeeper to do? So often we—I—do the bare minimum, but if we do more, if we give of our very selves, we will in turn be repaid that much more.

If this life on earth is the dust mote that it is in the scope of eternity—and yet an infinitely crucial dust mote that determines our eternal fate—why would we not make the most of it? Why not pour this life’s savings into the life to come? Well, I don’t know about you, but I find that it takes intentionality to live with an eternal perspective.

The other week, while running an errand, I walked past a young woman sitting on the sidewalk holding a sign on her lap. Yes, I walked past—but I felt my body stiffen, and ten strides later I came to a halt. I had to turn back and place a little money in her pot. God bless you, she said. Yes, God’s blessing. I realized that while my head was telling me I needed that money for personal expenses, my heart knew that what would be remembered in the scope of eternity was my sacrifice, not whatever I may have purchased with those five dollars. It took intentionality to live with an eternal perspective, to sort through the many excuses that will flood in without fail when presented with a choice like that. Like the innkeeper, we can choose to do what is easy and obvious (save that money for our personal expenses) or we can can look beyond the moment to what truly matters.

Personally, I believe the innkeeper reached into his own purse and dished out whatever was needed so that when the master of the ass returned, the invalid would be found in far better shape than expected.

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