Luke 10:29 – But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
In one of the most recognizable parables of the Bible, Jesus explained the heart of a neighbor by telling a story of the Good Samaritan. Jesus was answering a question from an expert in the law, who correctly quoted Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 as the two Great Commandments of God. Jesus affirmed that such a flawless life of loving God and neighbor would warrant eternal life. The lawyer, asserting his self-righteousness, questioned the identity of his neighbor.
The lawyer should have said, “I am not able to do this. Can you help me?” Yet the story took an ironic twist, as the despised Samaritan became the hero of the day. The priest and the Levite, both of whom were expected to love others, avoided a wounded man found half-dead on the dangerous road to Jericho. Plainly read, the parable clearly teaches that we should see and help anyone we meet who is distressed. At the close of the story, Jesus asked the lawyer which person had demonstrated love to his neighbor. I can imagine the smug face of the lawyer with his tightly drawn lips struggling to mutter the answer. He could not even bring himself to say “Samaritan,” though he recognized the truth. Those who show compassion are the ones who love their neighbors.
Jesus wants his followers to have the heart of a true neighbor. Unlike the lawyer, I surmise that you are asking, “How can I do this?” There are many interests and events in our day that compete with our desire to help others. We all have lives with busy schedules, deadlines, tasks, errands, and hobbies. Let’s look to Jesus’ example explained simply in Acts 10:38. Jesus was described as one who “went about doing good.” Jesus was the ultimate neighbor. His compassion to seek and to save those who were perishing is evidently portrayed throughout his life. Jesus left people better than when he found them. Your gesture could be as simple as a kind word or compliment, as sincere as a cup of cold water offered in Jesus’ name, or a distinct effort to provide support to someone despite the inconvenience. You could have the opportunity to give the Gospel as you take the opportunity to live the Gospel.
Look around in your life – where can you make an effort to help someone in need? Wherever you find an opportunity, “Go, and do thou likewise” and love your neighbor.