Be a Good Neighbor

Notice the parable of the good Samaritan ( Luke 10:27-37). Jesus begins by confirming to the one who asked Him how to inherit eternal life, that what he should do is keep the second greatest commandment, after loving God with all your heart, mind and soul: to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22: 36-40).  Jesus is then asked “who is my neighbor” the thought being, who is it I should love as much as I love myself.

By asking this question the lawyer was seeking to justify Himself probably by expecting a narrow answer such as “your fellow Jew”; a view that he must have thought Jesus shared.  Instead of answering him directly, Jesus then relates the story of the Samaritan (people despised by the Jews) who helps a man in need and, thus shows not “who is my neighbor”, but how to be a good neighbor to others.

By this He shows that we are to help those who are in need because we love our fellow-man (our neighbor) and thus can identify who is our neighbor by first being a good neighbor ourselves. The question that we should be asking is not “who is my neighbor”, but how can I show my love for God and for my fellow-man by being a good neighbor to others, especially those who are in need.

In the story, and I believe Jesus is telling what actually happened and not just a parable meant to illustrate a point, the Samaritan helps a man who was attacked and robbed after two Jewish religious leaders (a priest and a Levite) saw the man and not only did not help him, but passed by on the other side of the road, as if they were afraid to have anything to do with the misfortune of the man, so that such an evil would not affect them in any way.

This is often our attitude today because we are afraid to get involved with others and will shy away from trouble to avoid it in our own lives. Instead we should go ahead and get involved, as the Samaritan did, and trust that God will be with us to keep trouble from us, unless He means for us to see such trouble or we make a real mistake to bring the trouble ourselves.

Notice, too, that the Samaritan not only helps the man, but he helps him a great deal by putting him up in an inn at his expense and seeing to his care personally. He truly took care of the man as if he were caring for himself or a loved one and that is the point: Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves!

That is a very hard thing for us to do, to love our fellow-man as much as we love ourselves, because we spend so much time caring for ourselves and our loved ones that to be as generous with strangers seems to be wrong. What if it takes away from our ability to care for our own interests? We should not be afraid of this either, as we are promised that if we put God and His kingdom first, our own needs will be met (Matthew 6:31-33).

That’s not to say we should be reckless with our resources, even in our desire to help others, but when we have the ability to help we should be willing and ready to help as best we can. So, we should consider how we can be good neighbors, as Jesus defines it, by loving and caring for our fellow-man as we love and care for ourselves. If we are to live a godly life we should do as Jesus says and “go and do likewise.” Can we really do it? It is not an easy task, but God would have us do so.

May God bless and keep you until next time.

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