Today is National Good Neighbor Day! Chances are, you had no idea, and are now feeling as though I have placed this bit of information in your lap too late in the day for it to be of any use. Well- shouldn’t every day be “Good Neighbor Day”? Let’s take a quick look at the Bible for some direction here.
Jesus- wise and wonderful Jesus, shared a powerful parable about this very topic! Yup, you guessed it- the parable of the Good Samaritan. “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus was asked this question, by someone who was trying to put Him to the test (big surprise, right?).
This question was in response to the challenging reminder to love God with all that we are AND to love our neighbor as our self. Jesus then told the parable to further illustrate his point. In Luke 10:30-37 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
While this is an extreme illustration (you’ll likely not come across a dying person on the side of the road all that often), the principles we learn from this parable are what Jesus meant us to apply when it comes to loving others. A couple of observations- Those who walked by probably did so in judgment, fear of becoming unclean and counting the cost, personally, of getting involved in this scenario. They are people who you’d generally expect to be compassionate and helpful- a priest, and a Levite. However, it’s the lowly-thought-of Samaritan who proves to be compassionate- doing what the others should have, risking defilement, giving of his hard earned money, time and personal property, providing hands-on-care, even going above and beyond in making sure the half-dead man’s needs were met, while promising to return to pay the debt incurred. This is our example for neighborly behavior. Challenging, isn’t it? Perhaps that is what Jesus has in mind. Loving the lovable is something anyone can do, easily. Loving the unlovable, at great personal cost, expecting nothing in return- now THAT’S Jesus! Is it not the goal and destiny of every believer to grow in Christ-likeness? Go, and do likewise.
So- who is YOUR neighbor? Let’s think beyond shared fence lines and friendly waves across the street. Jesus shows us that being a neighbor to someone has nothing to do with proximity but has everything to do with showing God’s love to others- no matter whom they are or where they may be. The two are connected- we cannot truly love God with all that we are while we are love-stingy toward others. Let’s be challenged to go the extra mile for one another- today and every day.
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:16-18
-Anny Walker, ICC’s website manager