“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” (Luke 10:36)
Love God. Love your neighbor. Many churches today sum up their whole mission with these few words. It makes sense to do so, since Jesus affirmed to the expert in the law that he was right in thinking of these two commands as the key to eternal life. Yet, too often, we seek to limit our definition of neighbor. There are certain people we see as other, rather than neighbors—people we are less eager to help. People we might even simply pass by, like the priest and the Levite.
The expert in the law had come to Jesus seeking to justify himself, yet Jesus would not let him get away with a narrow definition of neighbor. After telling the story of the traveler in distress and the responses (or nonresponses) of the priest, the Levite, and the Samaritan, Jesus drove home the point with the question, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” The expert in the law could only respond, “The one who had mercy on him.”
The parable of the good Samaritan demonstrates that being a neighbor is not a way of showing favor to those who are like us—which we would do anyway. It is a sacrificial way of life that involves extending mercy and compassion to all.
Make yourself a neighbor to those who are not like you.
Kevin R. Scott is a pastor and author of “ReCreatable: How God Heals the Brokenness of Life”. He lives with his family in middle Tennessee.
© 2022 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.