He 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.” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” –Luke 10:27-29
On a mission trip to Peru, our team gave away over 150 wheelchairs to those in need. Some of the distributions were done in small towns with the local mayor or governor present. Others were distributed house-to-house. In one such home, our team gave a chair to an over 40-year-old man who had lived most of his life confined to a wheelchair. As he told us his story, he mentioned that his family had abandoned him. Through our translators we asked, “Whose home is this?” “These people took me in,” he said, “When no one else would.”
We then asked the woman with him, “Why would you take this man in?” Her answer was simple and matter-of-fact. She said, “I am a Christian like you, and doesn’t Jesus tells us to love our neighbors?” We all went slack jawed. For most of us, it was the first time we had seen the parable of the Good Samaritan lived out in such a crystal clear way.
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus tells the story of a Jewish man who is beaten by robbers and left for dead on the road. A priest and a temple assistant both walk by on the other side of the road, choosing to pass by the beaten man. It was a despised Samaritan who felt compassion for the man, stopped to soothe his wounds, and then made sure he was cared for. So who was the one who loved his neighbor in this example? Jesus said it was one who showed mercy. And what does Jesus tell us to do? “Go and do the same.”
Who is your neighbor? Neighbors come in all different forms. It doesn’t matter what race or social background, and it isn’t confined to simply the people who live on your street. When the Lord puts someone in your path, it is important to show love to our neighbors and help meet their need. And the needs vary. For some, it will be a physical need and for others an emotional need. Today, may you be prepared to love your neighbor.
1. Think about a time in your life where you look back and realize you missed an opportunity to extend yourself to someone the Lord put on your heart. What feelings does this bring up?
2. Who is someone the Lord is putting on your heart right now? How can you be a good neighbor to him/her?
Luke 10:25-37; Romans 15:1-4