Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ - Matthew 22:37-39
18 Feb, 2022
Day 1: Who Is My Neighbour?
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
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 neighbour 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 neighbour?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
If you were to think about your neighbour, who would immediately spring to mind? Perhaps it’s the family that lives across the road from you or the elderly couple that lives next door. When we think about our neighbours, we often think about people who live in the closest physical proximity to us.
And we are not wrong, they are indeed our neighbours.
However, when Jesus referred to neighbours, we see that He had a far greater scope than we tend to grasp.
In fact, the idea of neighbours is so important to Jesus that when asked what the greatest commandment is, He answers, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ (Matthew 22:37-39).
Jesus was only asked for one command, but he adds on a second. It’s almost as if it is inconceivable for anyone to love God with all their heart, soul and mind but then not to love their neighbour as themselves! According to Jesus, if you love God then you will also love your neighbour.
When asked “who is my neighbour?”, Jesus tells the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). In the story, a Jewish man falls into misfortune while journeying from Jerusalem to Jericho. He is beaten up by a gang of thieves and left for dead on the roadside. A priest and Levite both pass him by, but they do not stop to help. Instead, a Samaritan comes to the man’s aid.
The Samaritan man was not from the area, he didn’t know the man lying on the road and had no obligation to help. He just had a heart that was moved with compassion. He chose to be a neighbour. A good neighbour.
According to Jesus, a neighbour is not merely defined by geography or proximity; a neighbour is anyone that Jesus is placing in our path to know, love and serve. We can be a good neighbour to those who most need us: the hurting, the broken and the vulnerable, just like the Samaritan was. He stopped his own journey and went out of his way to make sure that the man was taken care of. We can do the same with the people around us, near and far.
This implies that being a good neighbour isn’t merely about physical proximity. Being ‘neighbourly’ is an action we choose. It’s not defined by a people group congregated around us but is an active stance we take to participate in showing the love of God to those that need it the most.
In other words, we are a good neighbour when we act neighbourly to anyone that needs our help.
Loving our neighbour reaches beyond the confines of our streets, beyond the boundaries of our cities and even our nations. When we understand that loving our neighbour reaches far beyond just the people in our immediate circle, we too can love people as Jesus intended, truly fulfilling His Great Commandments: love God, love people.
How has Jesus been a good neighbour to you?
Lord, I pray that You open my eyes to the people You have placed in my path to know, love and serve. Please help me to love my neighbour as You intended, so I can truly outwork Your command to love You and love Your people. Amen.
Think of someone outside your immediate social circle who might need a good neighbour. Think of one way you can help them today or this week.
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