First, it would be best to recognize. Who is my neighbor?
And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? How readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 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. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise. —Luke 10: 25-37 KJV
This parable has been recited many times, in many sermons, of many churches. This parable has reached many nations, in many countries, crossing the oceans and passing over mountains throughout the world. And, still some will ask. Who is my neighbor?
As we grow into a mature Christian life, love of our neighbor broadens into many facets of our lives.
Being a good neighbor ebbs and flows just as our lives ebb and flow amid personal trials. Having a good neighbor that appears ready to help us through those trials is a godsend.
We so willingly share with our neighbors in times when our lives have abundance. In times of abundance, it’s almost too easy to live as Jesus commanded, “Go, and do thou likewise.” Consider how much more it is to be a good neighbor even in times of leanness.
The parable of the Good Samaritan wasn’t just an example for us to do something for someone else as a good neighbor. He has unwittingly also given us permission to reach out in friendship to others that may some day become wonderful assets in our lives as well.
Second, it would be prudent to ask. Do you know your neighbor?
And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? —Genesis 4:9 KJV
So frequently this passage is used in such a way as to ignore and avoid our neighbor; justifying someone’s selfishness by misrepresenting this verse.
How then, do we know our neighbor?
We know our neighbor when we pass another who looks as if they are having a hard day, and decide to share a smile. We know our neighbor when someone is stuck on the highway with a flat tire, and decide to stop and check if they need help.
We know our neighbor when we can boldly share what Christ has done in our lives, because to deny Him would be impossible.
For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. —Romans 14:8 KJV