“The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke. We all know the quote. But another way to say it might be – “Get off your donkey!” After all if the Good Samaritan had stayed on his donkey… well I guess we wouldn’t call him the GOOD Samaritan. He would have just been another good man who did nothing – like the Priest or the Levite in Jesus famous story told in Luke 10 and recounted in the book Gospel Justice.
This past Saturday I had a choice. I could stay in bed or do a number of things around the house or with Helen or the boys or I could volunteer with Administer Justice. I chose to get off my donkey and serve a neighbor in need. Three hours that made a difference. I walked into the doors of the church to the smell of coffee and donuts and the smiles of volunteers (a greeter, paralegal, and interpreter). I also met a young lawyer who was glad to be volunteering before his wife had their second child this past Tuesday. He deeply appreciated the opportunity to serve. While he met with two clients, so did I.
The first client I met with was a woman in her early 50’s distraught over the latest affair in a series of affairs her husband had over the last 25 years of marriage. This one lost him his job because it took place at work. She was Mormon and a firm believer in marriage but all attempts at counseling had failed. She was uncertain what the future would hold. She had no job and had not worked in several years. We prayed and talked through the divorce process, the importance of focusing on what she could control – her heart, her response – and letting go of what she could not control – her husband and his actions. All of us will stand before God one day and account for our actions – not the actions of someone else. We discussed practical issues from credit reports to home valuation, and also how God viewed the circumstances. How He wept over the brokenness of this world, but longed for relationship with each of us. After specific guidance, a packet of information, and more prayer she left much lighter than when she came.
The second client was an elderly woman who was legally blind. Her caretaker assisted her. She was overwrought by the actions of a neighbor in a battle over a fence she erected nearly 40 years ago but 6-12 inches onto his property. The tensions had escalated and that morning he had broken a reflector off her garage. “See what he did!” She said showing me the reflector. We talked about what it means to love our neighbor – in this case literally her neighbor. How we can’t control how other people respond but we do not have to let others control our response. The woman was a devout Catholic. The neighbor made her so angry she was afraid she would do something rash. In the course of conversation she revealed the man was getting divorced. She gained some understanding and rather than race to court on an adverse possession claim (an action where you gain right to property not yours through extensive, long-term use), she recognized the man would likely not be living in the house much longer and agreed to the wisdom of patience and praying for her enemy. We spent time in prayer and she left greatly encouraged to not pursue drastic self-help or a lawsuit and gained a deeper appreciation of what it means to love our neighbor.
This is the ministry of gospel justice. A ministry that encourages lawyers and others to get off their donkey and love neighbors. What a blessing to come alongside neighbors in need and show mercy. I am glad I got out of bed. I hope you’ll do the same as we listen to Jesus challenge to be a Good Samaritan and “Go and Do Likewise.”