What does it mean to love your neighbor as yourself? I was doing some reading this morning in Luke. Part of that was the parable of the good Samaritan. Here it is:
25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 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. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side.32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 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.35 And the next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
Seems simple enough right? Just help your fellow man. There is a deeper meaning in this text. Jesus replies to the lawyer with a parable but at the end of that parable He asks, “Which of these three, do you think, proved to BE A NEIGHBOR to the man who fell among the robbers?” Jesus didn’t share a parable that helped the lawyer discern who his neighbor is at all. He replied with a parable on how the lawyer himself should be the neighbor.
It was not until this morning that I ever noticed that. It sent my mind in to a whirlwind of thoughts. Yes, we are to show love to all. Even to those who we would not otherwise have any form of relationship with. Yet, in order to show that love, we ourselves must BE THE NEIGHBOR. How can we be the best neighbor? How can we show the most love to others? It all starts with working on ourselves. We all have struggles. We all have ups and downs. We also all have the ability to grow continually. God has given us all of the tools we need to be what HE meant for us to be. We just need to use these tools. God feeds the birds but HE doesn’t drop the worms in their nest. They have to go work for it.
So, we dive in to scripture. We pray. We surround ourselves with those who will motivate us and lift us up. We challenge ourselves daily. We are not afraid of challenging our current understanding of God and HIS word. That challenge should encourage us to dig deeper so that we have a better understanding. There are so many books out there that seem to be unused resources. So many people before us and currently have shared the information we are seeking. You know the people I am speaking of. They are the ones we look at and wish we had the understanding or relationship with God that they have. Who says we can’t? That is why if we seek to truly BE A NEIGHBOR we must be diligent in the work we do on ourselves. We have to put the time in to growing ourselves. We must invest in ourselves to grow the love, peace, kindness and joy with the people we have contact with.
The question today is not “Who is my neighbor?” The answer to that is EVERYONE! Rather, the question is “How can I BE A NEIGHBOR?”
Father, I pray that we all use the tools you have given us to grow. That we will not seek out who it is that will be our neighbor but rather seek you more so that we ourselves can BE THE NEIGHBOR you have called us to be. Amen!