Unfortunately, 80 percent of us are like a thermometer — the device that can detect whether a place or an object is hot or cold. However, a thermometer does nothing to change the temperature in any way. Thus, if the hot or cold temperature is negatively affecting a place or objects, the condition continues to get worse with zero possibility of the thermometer having any effect.
The Levite and the Priest described in Luke 10:25-37 were “Human Thermometers.” They saw a fellow human being in a condition what warranted attention, and if unattended, there was a possibility that he would die. But they did absolutely nothing. They went on with their plans just like those who never witnessed a man in pain.
Then a stranger, a Samaritan who I want to refer to as a “Human Thermostat,” saw the same man the priest and Levite had seen. And he acted to change that man’s condition. That’s what a thermostat does. Detect a condition and, if action is needed to rectify it, then it acts.
At times we notice a human condition that needs to be addressed but, for a myriad of reasons, we do nothing. There are many speculations why the priest and Levite did nothing. They could have been on a tight schedule. They could have been afraid that they would endanger their own lives if they tried to help that man. Or maybe they were riding smaller donkeys with no room for extra passengers.
But the people who act to improve human conditions also have personal lives to attend to and limited resources at their disposal. The Good Samaritan had his own plans and also was endangering his life. He could have been attacked by the same thugs who robbed and roughed up the man in the road.
You don’t have to be a person of means to be a “Human Thermostat.” In 2 Kings 5, we read of a young girl, a nameless Israelite slave who served the wife of a Syrian army captain, Naaman. She knew Naaman suffered from leprosy, a contagious and repulsive condition often necessitating quarantine.
The only reason we read about her is because of a simple sentence. She said to Naaman’s wife, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria. He would cure him of his leprosy.” Her words, given that she was a slave, could have easily been ignored. But when people are suffering, they are willing to try whatever resources are available.
Naaman was eventually healed of his leprosy — because a slave girl saw a fellow human being (not the man whose army caused her to leave her homeland and be separated from her family) suffering and she did something about it.
People do nothing to improve the situation of others because they consider their own safety or being on time or their limited resources. It is only when we consider and do something about the suffering of our fellow human beings that we grow spiritually and experience fulfillment that cannot be provided by a paycheck, job position or living an affluent lifestyle.
Vincent Muli Kituku is an author and speaker for business organizations, schools and Christian groups. He is the founder of Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope and Caring Hearts High School, a vulnerable girls’ boarding school in Kenya. Contact him at (208) 376-8724 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Idaho Statesman’s weekly faith column features a rotation of writers from many different faiths and perspectives.