Friday, May 10, 2013

Who's your Neighbor?

James 2:8 (NIV) If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.

Reading through James 2 this morning, especially verse 8, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the parable of the Good Samaritan. I recently heard this story during a chapel service at my son’s school. The teacher presenting the message, did a great job putting a modern day spin on this story.

The story of the Good Samaritan is about a man who is beaten-up and left for dead on the side of the road. When a priest sees the man lying there, he quickly crosses the street and keeps walking. A Levite walks by and does the exact same thing as the priest. When a Samaritan passed by, he stopped and showed compassion for the man. The Samaritan takes the beaten man to a place where he could be cared for, and is willing to pay for all the man's expenses.

When I think about this story and the three men who came in contact with the victim, I wonder about their attitude that day and how I would have reacted. The Priest and the Levite, were the religious leaders of their day. In today’s church the Priest could be compared to the Senior Pastor; and the Levite a deacon, elder, Sunday school teacher, ministry director, etc. I would like to think, when faced with a similar circumstance; a pastor or elder of the church would show compassion and help the man. But these two men didn’t. They saw the beaten man as a problem and went out of their way to avoid him.

The Samaritan had a completely different attitude. Before I talk about his attitude, it's necessary to mention that Samaritans in those days were considered outsiders and were deeply hated by the Jews. In the story when the Samaritan approaches the beaten man, a Jew, he shows compassion for the man…not HATE. Their differences didn't come into play one bit. The fact that he was suppose to "hate" the beaten man, or the racial, social or political difference didn’t matter to the Samaritan. He just saw a man in need and did everything he could to help. I'm certain the victim didn't care that the person who came to his aid was a Samaritan. In fact, I be the man was thankful that someone stopped to help and not leave him there to die.

When it comes to loving your neighbor as yourself, it’s important for us to realize who our neighbor actually is. Is it the family within a 1 block radius of your home? Or, is it the person who has wronged you in some way and you can't stand to look at them or even hear their name? Perhaps it's anyone you come in contact with…even people from different walks of life, backgrounds and beliefs, or race?

Our neighbor is anyone (whether you like them or not) from any social background, race, or creed. And, according to James we are to love them as we love ourselves. Meaning, if we were on the road that day and happened across the beaten man, we would take the same compassionate attitude as the Samaritan.

I realize it's sometimes a bit of a challenge to truly "love our neighbor." When people are in need, are you like the priest and the Levite trying to "avoid" certain situations because you don't think you know how to help or just don't want to be bothered 


"But my life is so busy!"

Yes, our lives are busy, God understands this...but His word is clear. We are to love and show compassion to those in need.
Look around – what “neighbor” is God calling you to show compassion to today?

The Good Samaritan - Luke 10:25 – 38
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 neighbor 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 neighbor?”

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 traveled, 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 neighbor 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.”

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