Who Is My Neighbor?
Scripture Reading — Luke 10:25-37
25On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 26"What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" 27He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" 28"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live." 29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" 30In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.' 36"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" 37The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise." —
"He ... bandaged his wounds ... took him to an inn and took care of him." Luke 10:34
Yesterday we saw that Christians need to get close enough to see the needs around them and to respond. Many faithful followers of Jesus are doing that every day in many communities. Some volunteer for a few hours at the local food bank, where they see lots of needs. Some volunteer time helping with disaster relief and doing something to help others in desperate need. Some tutor children.
Becoming a neighbor means identifying with the concerns, struggles, and needs of people around you.
Pastor and writer John Ortberg states one of the strongest features of the story of the good Samaritan is in what the Samaritan doesn't do. He doesn't have the mugging victim move in with him. He doesn't lobby the county to make the road safer. He doesn't start a relief agency to help all mugging victims. He doesn't even cancel his business trip. Jesus uses great restraint in telling this story. The good Samaritan doesn't do everything; he just does what he can.
One of the biggest obstacles in cultivating a heart for the needs of others is that the needs are overwhelming. Often they're so overwhelming that we don't know where to start. So we need simply to take the next step. For many of us, though, that's a big step. That next step can help define who your neighbor really is.
Lord, help me to take a step closer to show your love to my neighbor today. Remind me that the smallest deed done in your name is better than the best of intentions. Amen.