George Bernard Shaw is an Irish playwright who is credited with saying that imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery, but also the sincerest form of learning. Any parent can attest to this truth. Little children watch the adults in their life closely and will work to imitate the behavior they see.
We have an 18-month-old grandson named Bennett who loves to watch his grandpa closely. On our last visit, Bennett watched grandpa give our son the ‘fist bump.’ Soon, Bennett was toddling over to grandpa to ‘fist bump’ him as well. Former Vice President of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and retired LCMS Pastor Dean Nadasy said, “Imitation as a form of learning is intentional and relational. We choose to do what someone we admire does.”
In our account from Luke chapter 10, Jesus tells the lawyer to imitate the Good Samaritan. The Good Samaritan is concerned for a stranger: “as he traveled, came where the man was, and when he saw him, he took pity on him.” (vs.33) The Good Samaritan becomes personally involved: “He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.” (vs.34)
The Good Samaritan inconveniences himself: “Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him.” (vs.34) The Good Samaritan sacrifices time and money: “he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have’.” (vs.35) In other words, imitate him with mercy that has no boundaries.
We are in the season of Lent. A time that began on Ash Wednesday and continues through the celebration of Easter. Lent is traditionally the 40 days when Christians reflect on the suffering and death of Jesus through repentance and self-examination. It is the time when many people choose to give something up as an act of self-denial and to help focus on the sacrifice Jesus made for us.
While there are countless ways to observe Lent, perhaps this year we might try the way of the Good Samaritan. May we, in love for the Lord, imitate His love and mercy shown to us, by sharing that love and mercy with those around us. May we be intentional in our observance of Lent, by imitating the One who gave us the perfect example of love and “go and do likewise.”