KEY VERSES: 36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? 37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise. (Luke 10:36-37)
Hello neighbors! Before I got too deep into this week’s lesson, I made sure I looked up the synonyms defining the word “neighbor.” And I will honestly confess I looked it up for a specific reason.
Words like friendly, kind, helpful, and considerate are what I found. Jesus, in many areas of scripture, explains through His words, His teaching, by parables, and in casual conversation, what He believes a neighbor is.
Let me tell you a short story I heard once: A preacher was running late when he pulled into a full-service gas station for fuel. A little guy came out from the office. He had a hooded jacket pulled down low, his face was covered with acne, his hair was greasy, and his pants were so large he had to keep pulling them up. The guy spoke poorly and slowly. It seemed to take forever for him to pump the gas. When the preacher gave him his credit card, it took several minutes before he came back to say they didn’t accept that card. The preacher then gave him another card only to learn after several more minutes that it didn’t work. Finally in desperation, he asked, “Do you still take cash?” The little fellow then took several more minutes to make change and return it. The preacher was so furious when he left that he backed up and spun his tires as he left the station! A few blocks away, the Holy Spirit began to convict him about his impatience and rudeness to the attendant. He drove back up and the little guy was too scared to come out of the office! Finally, the preacher said to him, “I’m really sorry for the way I treated you.” The man pushed back his hooded jacket and said, “That’s okay mister. Everybody treats me that way.”
Neighbors, this scenario should bring us to tears, but it happens all the time. In a cold, lonely, impersonal world, those who take time to care for others are the exception not the rule. When we receive Christ, we not only enter into a relationship with Him, but with every other believer. We are called to serve (minister) and to care for others.
Let me even take it one step further. In Jesus’ day, a sick person was deemed “Unclean.” They were usually sent out of town until they were well and blessed by a Priest or Bishop, or Pharisee, etc. Do you know what Jesus did with the sick? He hugged them. He touched them. He went against the normal procedures of the day and comforted them.
Do you want to know why “the world” persecutes Christians? Because they see us as hypocrites. Because like in the parable of the Good Samaritan most of us will go around or walk to the other side of the street to avoid us when we’re sick.
(Mark 9:41) For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.
(1 John 4:11) Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
(Romans 12:10) Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
Everyone wants to be part of a caring church. One statement I often hear from people who are searching for a church home is “We want a church where people really care about each other.” I suppose it is also true that every church wants to be a caring church. However, caring churches are made up of caring individuals. If we are going to be a caring church, the kind of church that makes an impact on people, each of us must learn to care for others.
Not from a distance or a “they know we care” kinda’ attitude. Not from a “tell him/her we are praying for them kinda’ attitude.
We’ve all heard those stories about the husband that never tells his wife he loves her because “She Knows” he loves her! That’s ridiculous! TELL HER! Love is an action Word… Share the prayer, Make the call, etc.
“33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.”
This parable has a practical application for you and me today. Any person you can help is your neighbor. It does not mean that only the person living next to you is your neighbor. People need Christ, but people are ignorant of their need! There is a great deal of talk about getting the gospel out to the world, but not much of an effort is made to see that people know about Jesus Christ. Someone has said, “It is like the young fellow who was courting a girl. He wrote her a letter and said to her, “I would climb the highest mountain for you, swim the deepest river for you, cross the widest sea for you, and cross the burning desert for you!” Then he added a P.S.: “If it doesn’t rain next Wednesday, I will come to see you.” That sounds like the average Christian’s commitment to the Lord!
It is not difficult to discuss neighborliness in the abstract, but it costs something to be a real neighbor. Do you pause to help when you see injustice and hurt, or like the priest and the Levite, do you look for an escape? You are never more Christlike than when you feel another’s hurt and seek to help.
Here is the basis for all ministry, taking time to sit at the feet of Jesus and hear His Word. It is important to serve the Lord and serve others, but it is even more important to delight our Lord by spending time with Him. Are you so busy serving the Lord that you have no time for your neighbor? Hmmmmm, think about that. Who is your neighbor?
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