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Being A Good Neighbor 1: Who Is Our Neighbor?

Being A Good Neighbor Day 1 – Who Is Our Neighbor?

“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Galatians 5:14, ESV)

“And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” (Luke 6:31)

I live in a neighborhood on a street with a handful of homes containing people of varied personalities and backgrounds. Some of my neighbors I know pretty well, but others I know very little about. There are neighbors that I would feel comfortable calling if I got spooked in the middle of the night, confident they would come to my rescue. But there are others whose last name I don’t even know, let alone have their contact information. Most are highly likeable folks, though of course, as with all neighborhoods, there are a few that stand out as being “high maintenance” or “trouble makers.” Regardless, they’re all my neighbors and, from a biblical perspective, I have the same obligation toward all of them, no matter what their need may be or how much I may like or dislike them.

Still talking from a biblical perspective, though, I need to move further out than just my physical neighborhood. “Neighbor” encompasses my whole community—family, church family, people at the gym, school acquaintances, my hairdresser, waitstaff, grocery clerks, fellow shoppers, other drivers, the person who just broke my heart, co-workers, and every other person that touches my world. Essentially, a neighbor is anyone with whom I come into contact. 

When we think how we’ve been called to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, we understand we’ve been called to love a lot of people, even people we wouldn’t naturally have an inclination to like, let alone love. Apart from the Holy Spirit within us, we would never be able to obey this command from Jesus. Because He perfectly demonstrated love and service to His neighbors in His own life, we know that, with His help, we too can love our neighbors the way we love and look out for ourselves.

When Jesus was asked the question, “Who then is our neighbor?” He replied with a parable. He told them a story about a man who had been beaten and robbed and left for dead in a ditch. Two men passed him by, not in the least bit worried about him nor taking any initiative to help. But the third man, the Good Samaritan, took notice, showed compassion, and took the man to a place where he would be cared for, paying his medical bill in full. Jesus then asked the crowd which one of these men displayed the character of a neighbor. The answer was obvious: it was the Good Samaritan, who demonstrated love for this wounded stranger in need, the same love and care he would want to be given to himself in the same situation.

Today’s exercise is to simply sit quietly for a few minutes and consider the neighbors in your circle. Who stands out as being a neighbor in need? In what ways might the Holy Spirit enable you to meet their needs and be a true neighbor to them? Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone and search out those who may need your help, your understanding, your care and your love? It’s a difficult challenge—I am not always the best neighbor myself!
The more willing we are to serve our neighbors, and the more we obey this command from Jesus, the more we will find ourselves being fulfilled. Serving is humble work, but it’s also extremely fulfilling. To be able to love our neighbors well, we will need to put to death our selfishness; serving and loving cannot thrive when we give in to our own selfish desires. May each of us be willing to sincerely serve our neighbors, even the ones we find most challenging. With God’s help, we can be a Good Samaritan in our own communities and better reflect the Holy Spirit within us.

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