• johned@aibi.ph

Loving Your Neighbor

The Story Of The Good Samaritan

(Luke 10:25-37 NKJV) And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" {26} He said to him, "What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?" {27} 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.'" {28} And He said to him, "You have answered rightly; do this and you will live." {29} But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" {30} Then Jesus answered and said: "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. {31} "Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. {32} "Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. {33} "But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. {34} "So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. {35} "On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.' {36} "So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?" {37} And he said, "He who showed mercy on him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

Love Of Neighbor

Love of God and love of neighbor are the two great commandments. They are repeated dozens of times in the Scriptures:

(1 John 3:16-18 NKJV) By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. {17} But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? {18} My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth."

There is a compelling weight to these exhortations. We MUST do the good works that God has prepared beforehand for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). This page is devoted to showing you how to fulfill this commandment. From the above parable we can see that the Good Samaritan a) perceived the need b) bothered to get involved in the mess c) paid the price of following it through to completion d) did so in an open-hearted attitude full of mercy and generosity. The Good Samaritan also got on with his business and let the person recover in peace. He was not a busybody or a sanctimonious do-gooder. There is something brusquely practical about him, almost businesslike.

Step One When we see a brother or sister in need we can give whatever immediate help we can from the resources we have available (and God always gives you enough to meet the need once you start using it "the loaves and fishes" principle - Matt 14:14-21). We must never ignore the need. To "close our hearts" is to squelch the love of God in us. (1 John 3:17)

Step Two We can then refer them to someone more able to help ("the innkeeper") but be prepared to still be involved and pick up the tab if necessary. This may mean taking them to AA or Social Security and standing with them until things are sorted out.

Step Three Check our attitude. Are we being generous or are we resenting "having to get involved"? Are we merciful and gracious or do we view the person as foolish? Are we helping out in order to boost ourselves or because we had compassion on that person? We should still help even if though our motives are very mixed and pride creeps in. It is better to meet the need because that way we are keeping our hearts open to the love and mercy of God - these will, in time, correct our attitudes.

May I suggest an set of priorities for Christian compassion -

1. Our spouse.
2. Our children.
3. Our aged parents.
4. The church.
5. The basic needs of the world.

Here are some verses that underlie my order of priorities:

(Ephesians 5:28 NKJV) So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.

(1 Timothy 5:8 NKJV) But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

(Mark 7:9-13 NKJV) He said to them, "All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. {10} "For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.' {11} "But you say, 'If a man says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban"; ' (that is, a gift to God), {12} "then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, {13} "making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do."

(Galatians 6:9-10 NKJV) And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. {10} Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

From Galatians we see that "doing good" is "especially" to Christians. From Mark we see that church comes behind parents, 1 Timothy says that providing for one's family is absolutely basic to being a Christian and Ephesians that spouses hold a very high place indeed - as high as our own bodies.

This is a common sense order and may help you sort out your helping role. Do not use it as an excuse though! Remember we are exhorted in Galatians to "do good to all" .(Gal 6:10)

That's the last article in the series - Congratulations!!

Other articles in this series include:

1. How To Be Sure You Really Are A Christian
2. How To Read The Bible
3. How To Pray
4. What Is God Like?
5. What Has Happened To Me?
6. Meeting God's People
7. Breaking Free From Sin
8. What About Heaven and Hell?
9. What About My Friends?
10. Loving Your Neighbor

This article may be freely reproduced for non-profit ministry purposes but may not be sold in any way. For permission to use articles in your ministry, e-mail the editor, John Edmiston at johned@aibi.ph.