Who Is My Neighbor?

Monday, July 22, 2019
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Scripture: "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,' and 'your neighbor as yourself.' " Luke 10:27 (NKJV)

Observation: With all thy heart. Lit., out of thy whole heart. The heart, not only as the seat of the affections, but as the centre of our complex being — physical, moral, spiritual, and intellectual.
     Soul. The word is often used in the New Testament in its original meaning of life. See Matt. 2:20; 20:28; Acts 20:10; Rom. 11:3 John 10:11  Hence, as an emphatic designation of the man himself. See Matt. 12:18 Heb. 10:38 Luke 21:19 So that the word denotes “life in the distinctness of individual existence” (Cremer).
     Mind. The faculty of thought: understanding, especially the moral understanding.

[Vincent, M. R. (1887). Word studies in the New Testament. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.]

Application: We all have probably read the story of the Good Samaritan hundreds of times.  We’ve probably heard as many sermons based on this story as well.  We have looked at every detail – the Jericho road, the man, the robbers, the Priest, the Levite, the Samaritan, the Inn.  Some preachers have described the scene in such a way that we have felt as if we were watching the it, as we were  there ourselves.
     When Jesus was asked by the teacher of the law, “who is my neighbor,” Jesus responded with this  story, shocking, to say the least, to this teacher of the law and to Jesus’ listening audience.  To us, it has lost in some ways the power and the sting it carried.  In fact, I think we have taken it out of a context in which it rightly belongs.  Now we look at the story and its meaning and we look for ways to be nice to those “different” than us.  We’re willing to go to other lands as missionaries.  We are happy to help in health clinics, teach VBS classes, sing, build, mingle with the locals, all with the goal of being good Christian representatives, ambassadors of God. . . all of which, by the way, is wonderful.
     We can even be “Good Samaritans” by volunteering to help those in need in our communities, particularly when they have fallen into misfortune – their house has burned down or has been destroyed by a tornado or a hurricane. . .all of which is also wonderful.
     Today, however, I would like to suggest we need to be Good Samaritans to those closest to us.  In answer to the question, “Who is my neighbor,” Jesus’ response was not “A Good Samaritan,” but rather “a person who cares about others and helps them in their time of need regardless of the differences between them.”  It so happens that in the story of Jesus, that person happened to be a Samaritan.  But instead of limiting ourselves to doing good to those outside of our home, shouldn’t we start by helping those within it?  If we were to ask Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” I think Jesus would respond, “the spouse with whom you share your bed,” “the children who live under your roof  and those who live elsewhere,” “those closest to you.”  Somehow we have applied His parable to those outside, but have neglected to follow its teachings with those inside.
      Sometimes we treat total strangers or guests better than we treat those who are closest to us.  As we read the parable again, let’s keep in mind our spouse, our children, our family, and treat them always – in their time of need and when they don’t seem to need anything – as a good neighbor.  Maybe we should start treating those closest to us as if they were guests in our home.

A Prayer You May Say: Father God, Help us to treat the people closest to our hearts and lives in the same loving, courteous, polite  manner we treat strangers when they come to our home.

Used by permission of Adventist Family Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.

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