Who Is My Neighbor?
Jesus was asked this question by someone who should have known the answer. Christ affirmed that it is pleasing to God when we “love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength and love our neighbor as we love our self.” But realizing that this guy didn’t quite “get it,” Jesus told him a story. A story we know as the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).
It’s a story that shows a man in desperate need, who is ignored by the spiritually mature, but cared for by the outcast. And it is the “lowly Samaritan” (lowly according to the Jews) that shows himself to be more spiritual, more loving, more compassionate, and in the end more neighborly. Jesus says, “see this Samaritan and what he did?” “Go and do likewise.”
We are reminded in this scripture that showing genuine compassion and care for those in need will cost us in the areas most painful to us: our money, our time, and our energy. This “Good Samaritan” gave of his money to care for the injured man. He gave of his time and energy, too. Something far too many people are not willing to give today. In the end, he was celebrated by Jesus as the one who did “get it.”
One of the ways we demonstrate today that we are truly disciples of Christ, is by showing compassion for others in need. Jesus refers to them as the “least of these” in Matt 25. The “least of these” are not people who are less valuable (we have all been created in the image of God, the imago Dei, and all are valuable to God), but people who are more vulnerable. Those more vulnerable need others who will give them a hand up. Like the Good Samaritan did. I wonder if we are willing to be modern day “Good Samaritans.”
We have all heard it said, “people don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.” It’s true. Talk is cheap. True compassion is expensive (time, money, energy). Just ask the Good Samaritan. The challenge for us today is simple. We need to find ways to make a difference in the lives of others. We must become intentionally purposeful about it if we are going to be obedient to Christ. We need to “show them” that we care by giving of our money, time, and energy to care for those in need. Jesus is asking us to “do likewise.” Let’s show that we “get it” but making a real difference in the life of someone in need today.