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Who Is Your Neighbor?

A teacher of the Law came up and tried to trap Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to receive eternal life?” Jesus answered him, “What do the Scriptures say? How do you interpret them?” The man answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind’; and ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.'” “You are right,” Jesus replied; “do this and you will live.” But the teacher of the Law wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Luke 10:25-29 GNT

The religious leaders of the day had redefined the word ‘neighbor’ to mean someone who is just like me, who is easy to like. They wanted to narrow the definition to such a small group of people that it would be easy to love your neighbor as yourself. In an effort to justify himself the lawyer asked “So, Jesus, exactly what do you mean by neighbor?”

Jesus answered, “There was once a man who was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when robbers attacked him, stripped him, and beat him up, leaving him half dead. It so happened that a priest was going down that road; but when he saw the man, he walked on by on the other side. In the same way a Levite also came there, went over and looked at the man, and then walked on by on the other side. But a Samaritan who was traveling that way came upon the man, and when he saw him, his heart was filled with pity. He went over to him, poured oil and wine on his wounds and bandaged them; then he put the man on his own animal and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Take care of him,’ he told the innkeeper, ‘and when I come back this way, I will pay you whatever else you spend on him.'” And Jesus concluded, “In your opinion, which one of these three acted like a neighbor toward the man attacked by the robbers?” The teacher of the Law answered, “The one who was kind to him.” Jesus replied, “You go, then, and do the same.” Luke 10:30-37 GNT

In our highly politicized world, it is easy to view everything through the prism of secularism or identity politics. But let’s be clear. When Jesus told this story he was not talking about national policy or what other people should be doing. This is a personal story about what we ought to be doing as individuals. If you are a husband, helping others may mean putting your wife’s need for conversation above your need to unwind from work. If you are a wife. helping others may mean putting your husband’s need to be admired and respected above your need to correct him all the time. If you are a parent, helping others may mean putting your child’s need for affection above your need to check your email or social media. This is what it means to help others: to meet the needs of those around us even when it is inconvenient.

Adapted from Pathway To Victory, Week 24

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