The 2 great commandments…love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. Love God and love those made in His image. Impossible to do without God working in us to produce that kind of love…love of God produces love of others, so loving others shows our love of God. Only those who have received God’s mercy can show that same mercy to others. John says it this way, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
When the lawyer asks, “Who is my neighbor?” he is attempting to define his circle and then build fences to take care of his own. If he can identify who his neighbor is, then he can also identify who his neighbor is not. His question really is, “Who am I required to love? What’s the minimum I can do and still get by?” How often do we ask that same question? It reflects, not love for others, but love of ourselves. The kingdom of me.
Jesus transforms the lawyer’s question to a call to action…who can I be a neighbor to? The Samaritan went to great lengths to serve the man in need. Very costly…time, money, convenience, etc. How we respond to the needs of folks we come in contact with every day, our impact list, especially when those needs are unscheduled and unexpected…what we might call interruptions…is a pretty good indication of how we’re doing in loving our neighbor. Do we see those interruptions as opportunities or distractions? Do we see folks as in need or in the way? Do we show compassion toward others or indifference? Are we generous with our time and our resources? If not, why not?
Maybe it’s a lack of margin that keeps us from loving our neighbor…we’ve so packed our schedules that we simply don’t have time to help those in need, or we’ve so over-extended ourselves financially that we don’t the resources to help. Spend some time asking God to help you create some margin in your life. Ask for wisdom of what you need to say “no” to in order that you can say “yes” when needs arise.
Maybe it’s hardness of heart that keeps us from loving our neighbor…we simply lack compassion and mercy for people. We get fed up with people and their perceived lack of judgment and perpetual bad decisions. Why did the man knowingly go down a dangerous road? Hardness of heart is dangerous…we can only show mercy if we’ve received mercy. If we don’t show mercy, it could be an indication that we ourselves need God’s mercy. At a minimum we have a heart problem. Ask God to reveal to you what’s going on in your heart. Ask Him to help you show compassion.
Maybe it’s selfishness, laziness or pride that keeps us from loving our neighbor…we are too busy building our own kingdoms, focusing on our own comfort, avoiding inconvenience. Our gaze is fixed inward instead of outward. Pray that God will open your eyes to the needs around you.
The way we respond to those in need is a pretty good indication of where we are on the “loving God” scale. So how are you doing? If we want to live and love like Jesus, the question for us is not, “Who is my neighbor?” but “Am I neighbor to the person in need?”
Until next time…stay salty.
“May we be neighbors to those we find in need this week.”
This post is based on a sermon from our Luke series, Live & Love Like Jesus. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster