Most everyone knows the story Jesus told about the Good Samaritan in Luke, chapter 10. One man beaten and robbed and in bad shape is along the path of three guys who individually happen by. But only one of them — the guy we now identify as the Good Samaritan stops to help the injured man. 10:30-37

Babson College in Massachusetts is ranked as the number one college in the country for developing entrepreneurs. Researchers there wanted to find out if the story of the Good Samaritan had any kind of effect on prompting people to help someone in need. They enlisted the help of an actor they would hire, along with ministerial students from Princeton Theological Seminary in an experiment. They divided the students into two groups:

Group one was told they’d be giving a talk about the Good Samaritan parable.

Group two was told they’d be giving a talk on job opportunities open to seminary students.

When the seminary students reported for their speeches, the researchers told them they’d need to be at a building on the other side of the campus to give their talks, and one of three directives:

  1. Some of both groups were told they were ahead of schedule and had plenty of time to make it across campus to talk about either the Good Samaritan or job opportunites. (No hurry)
  2. Some were told they were right on schedule, but would need to be prompt in making it across campus.
  3. And a third group were told they were running late, and their audience was already waiting for them. (Hurry along.)On the way across campus, each participant had to walk by the actor who was part of the experiment, who was coughing uncontrollably, groaning, and slumped over in a doorway. Researchers wanted to know which participants in either group would stop to help the actor. The results were very telling.

The seminary students who had been told they would be teaching on the parable of the Good Samaritan were no more likely to stop and help the distressed man than the group speaking about job opportunities. In fact, the researchers noted that some of the Good Samaritan group actually and quite literally stepped over the man who was obviously in need on their way to teach about the Good Samaritan.

No, what made the difference in the responses of the participants wasn’t the topic they were going to address, but how much of a hurry they were in to give their speeches.

Those who were told they were ahead of schedule, with plenty of time to make it across campus were six times more likely to stop and help.

No matter who you are, no matter where you live, no matter what you do for a living, you’re passing by people Jesus described as your ‘neighbors’ every day, and so am I; people who have been beaten up pretty good. On our way to some meaningful job, or life or message there are those souls we can either step over, or step around, or stoop down to offer a helping hand. My challenge isn’t that I haven’t taken the time to read the story of the Good Samaritan. My reality is that hurrying along in life causes me to forget what I’ve read.

You may want to check it out, again. The Good Samaritan, in Luke 10:30-37.

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