Who Is My Neighbor?
And behold, a certain lawyer (an expert in Jewish law) stood up and tested Him saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus said to him, "What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?" So he answered and said, "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 10:25,26
The two greatest commandments on which all the scripture is fulfilled was recited by this expert who came to Jesus seeking eternal life. Like many who can memorize and recite volumes of scriptures this lawyer didn't seem to know or have a revelation of what it meant to love your neighbor, or even who his neighbor was when wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
To answer that question is to open one's eyes and see, because the whole world is your neighbor! Gays, Muslims, illegal aliens, the rich, the poor, the wicked and the righteous, and yes, even your enemies are your neighbors! Love our enemies, "No way!" That's the problem, because we pick and choose whom we like, the nice clean middle class white folk with nice manicured yards and well behaved kids who don't cause any trouble. But what about the rest of the world, the thieves, rapists, and murderers, those in prison, or those with AIDS, are we not also supposed to love them?
Jesus was no respecter of persons and He walked among the worst of the worst, whores and drunkards, gluttons, tax collectors and Pharisees, even lepers who were unclean and regarded as outcasts of society. No one was rejected because of His great love, something the modern-day, all about me church knows absolutely nothing about!
"The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." Luke 10:2
THE GOOD SAMARITAN
"A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead." Luke 10:30
Sound familiar, somebody being robbed and beaten, left for dead, happens daily, but what is our responsibility in these situations if we witness an attack? According to Jesus, He tells of a good Samaritan who happened by this very scenario and what he did for the man, beaten and left for dead!
Now as the story goes a priest and a Levite had seen the man lying in the road but passed him by not wanting to involve themselves in a messy situation, and I will tell you from experience every situation is messy when you are trying to help someone. Think about it, how many times have you had an opportunity to help someone but didn't want to invest the time or the money or the legality of the circumstance in order to be able to help someone in great need?
Lucky for the man who was beaten that a good Samaritan arrived on the scene and attended to his wounds and put him in an inn until he was well and paid for the whole thing. Jesus then asked the lawyer which of the three men who saw the man lying in the street was his neighbor and the lawyer responded by saying, "The one who showed mercy!" Jesus said to him, "Go and do the likewise!"
"And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. "But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. "Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful." Luke 6:34-36
AN EYE FOR AN EYE
"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' "But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. "If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. "And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two." Matthew 5:38-41
We have all grown up hearing this scripture and whether you are a believer or not it has become the creed of the American macho male to do unto others before they do unto you! In light of the times and recent terror attacks in Paris and around the world we have taken this verse to heart in that we have so many enemies and so much evil that it seems appropriate to hate those who stand against us.
Jesus prophesied that in the last days because lawlessness would increase that most people's love would grow cold, a sign of apostasy, and so it has happened. The once brilliant white hot heat of the love that God's people had has all but grown dim and in danger of being extinguished. Our mission in this life as the body of Christ is to exhibit the love that God has for the world, even giving His only begotten Son to be sacrificed for the sins of the wicked! Even Jesus as He was dying on the cross said to those who crucified Him, "Father, forgive them!"
If we are to win the world for the Lord Jesus Christ, we must repent of being like the rest of the world and begin to love people as God does and to see them as He does, as a people needing to be forgiven and delivered from their sins! May God have mercy on His people and give us love for one another.
"But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, "that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." Matthew 5:44,45
Your servant in Christ, Tim Laughlin