Anyone my age and older knows this man. He used to ask kids across America to be his neighbor. Despite any rumors about him being a predator or a navy seal (or anything in between)… one thing is for sure… he understood how we were to treat our neighbor.
Paul summed up a whole message from Jesus by saying, “For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”” (Rom 13:9) Despite this being repeated in three of the four gospels and even going into more detail in the Luke version, most people have the same hang up on this verse that the lawyer did in the Luke version. “But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”” (Luke 10:29)
When Jesus said to love our neighbor, His emphasis was not on who our neighbor was, but instead it was on what that kind of love is. He finished that statement with ..’as yourself’. While this lawyer (and so many of us) get distracted about who we are to love, Jesus was focused on how we are to love.
The story that followed the lawyers question is one of the most well known stories of the Bible, the story of the Good Samaritan. Nowhere in the story does Jesus put emphasis or attention on who is being loved. In fact, to prove His point, He actually uses a Samaritan because the audience He was speaking to would have considered the Samaritans about as low as possible. However, the Samaritan is not who is receiving love, rather he is the one giving the love.
If you pay close attention to the story, Jesus spends almost no time describing who the man is receiving the love, but He spends all sorts of time focusing on how the Samaritan showed love. So while the lawyer’s question was about who is my neighbor, Jesus’ answer was not only to say ‘everyone is’, but also to demonstrate what that kind of love should look like. When He finished the statement with ‘as yourself’ He was getting them to think about how they would like to receive love. However you would like to receive love, show that love to everyone.
Rather than wondering if a person is someone we ought to show love to… we should consider how we would like to receive love if we were in their same place. This shouldn’t only apply to the beaten up naked man left for dead on the side of the road, it should apply to every other person you come in contact with. Treat everyone as your neighbor and love them they way you want to be loved.
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