The Bible instructs us to love our neighbors as ourselves. But exactly who are our neighbors? Who are we called to love as ourselves?
A teacher of the law asked Jesus this question, “Who is our neighbor?” The question itself suggests that our love for others is limited, only extended to a few. Do I only need to love those who are in physical proximity? Those who look like me? Those who think like me? Those with whom I share a religious belief? Those with whom I share a nationality? Who is my neighbor?
Jesus answers with a parable. In Jesus’ parable, the priest, the one whose job it was to represent the people before God, ignored the suffering of one in need. He did not act neighborly. Then a Levite, a teacher of the law, too, saw a fellow countryman in distress and walked on the other side, ignoring his need.
So the religious, leaders in the Jewish community, keepers of the law, ignored the sufferings of their brother, ignored his pain, his misfortune, choosing to walk on the other side. And then along came a Samaritan, a man who was thought to be unclean, a half-breed, a dog, one who was despised in the religious community. It is he who demonstrates what it means to be a neighbor, what it means to love someone as you love yourself.
So what does it mean to love your neighbor as yourself. What did the Samaritan do?
1. We have mercy and compassion for those in need, even if that person has treated us badly, even if that person doesn’t look like us, think like us, worship like us; even if that person comes from outside my borders.
2. We bandaged their wounds, providing oil (healing) and wine (joy)
3. We lift them up and carry them to a place of safety.
4. We use our resources to provide for them until they can get back on their feet.
Let’s go out today and be a neighbor to someone in need, remembering our neighbors extend beyond our community, our state, our nation. God’s love has no limits.
“The religious scholar responded, “The one who demonstrated kindness and mercy.” Jesus said, “You must go and do the same as he.””
Luke 10:37 TPT