This week, we dive into a new facet of being the church of Jesus: what it truly means to love your neighbor.
1 John 4:20-21: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
We look specifically at Luke 10, which provides a beautiful example of what it means to love your neighbor in the parable of the Good Samaritan.
Luke 10:2-28: “And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? How do you read it?’ And he answered, ‘You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.’ And he said to him, ‘You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.'”
Verse 29 continues, and reveals to us a weakness we face as humans: we are so good at finding excuses not to love our neighbor: “But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?'”. We ask: who is our neighbor? What is love, really? Too often, we turn “love” into “tolerance”, and being tolerant is not being loving at all.
To love God and to love people means to take action. We cannot be passive and be loving; love is an intentional decision, with actionable follow-through. To love someone is to prefer their highest good, even if it is costly to the self.
Luke 10:30-37: “Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘You go, and do likewise.'”
How did the Samaritan prove to be a neighbor?
- He saw him, had compassion, and went to him.
- We can’t see people when we have preconceived notions, but God doesn’t see us according to our outward appearances. He sees the heart.
- Stay sensitive to the brokenness around you.
- He bandaged his wounds.
- Get your hands dirty. Helping others can look messy.
- He blessed him with oil and wine (representing anointing).
- We are called to prophetically encourage others.
- He made a long-term investment to help him.
The question isn’t, “Who is my neighbor?”, it’s “How can I help my neighbor?”. Let us be a church constantly asking how to help our neighbor in love beyond understanding.