The Bible has a lot to say about neighbors. In the Ten Commandments alone we are told: not testify falsely against your neighbor; not covet your neighbor’s house; not covet your neighbor’s wife; or their maid or pool boy; or their mode of transportation; or anything else that belongs to your neighbor. (Exodus 20:16-17)
Jesus said, loving your neighbor as much as you love yourself is as important as loving God and the summation of the whole Old Testament law! (Matthew 22:35-40)
What does that mean to us today? It means that we need to understand how to treat our neighbors right if we want to be right with God.
So, with this being such an important concept in scripture and the teachings of Jesus Himself, it seems reasonable that someone would ask, “Who is my neighbor?” A Pharisee (a teacher of the Jewish law) asked that question in Luke 10:25-37. Jesus responded with a story that we call the Good Samaritan.
A Jewish man was beaten and left for dead on the side of the road. A priest walks buy and does nothing. A church Deacon (Levite) looks at him but doesn’t help. Finally a despised Samaritan stops and helps the Jewish man.
The Jews truly despised the half-breed Samaritans, they were unclean to them. Damned by birth. It would be like a 1960s African American man stopping to help a Klu Klux Klan man and the Pharisee knew this bigotry. Jesus asked him a question:
Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?”
The Pharisee couldn’t help but replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus responded, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
His command to us today is the same. Be like the Good Samaritan. If you are in a position to help someone, do it. God will put people in your path, maybe even people you don’t relate to, maybe even people you have a prejudice towards…be Jesus to them.