While challenging Jesus, a certain lawyer seeking to justify himself, asked, “who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered with the parable of the good Samaritan to make him and us consider the answer to that question. (Luke 10:25-37)
Who is my neighbor?
What a great question! Seeing that the second great command is to love thy neighbor as thyself, we ought to ask it of ourselves today. (Matt 22:39; cf Lev 19:18)
It reminds me of NAAMAN’S stolen little maid (2King 5:1-14). Who was her neighbor?
It was the one that STOLE HER!!
From the parable and the story of the little maid we learn that EVERYONE we come in contact with is our neighbor, and let’s not forget about our online neighbor.
Do we have the love to INVITE our neighbor to the healing power of Jesus? Another question, would they accept or decline the invitation based on our GOOD works or lack thereof? “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” (Titus 1:16). The story of the healing of Naaman hinges on an invitation from the stolen little maid. What does Naaman’s acceptance of her word speak about her good behavior?
Jesus speaks of love for, rather than HATRED of our enemies. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt 5:43-44). It makes me think of the server that had wronged a Christian. After he exacted his pound of flesh through a verbal assault, I wonder if the server would be open to an invitation to a home bible study with that Christian? (Ouch, that hurt.)
What about our BORDER neighbors, the ones with whom we share a fence line? If history is indicative of future possibilities, what would their answer be to our invitation to worship after our current land dispute? Let alone the Proverbs wisdom about being friendly with our property neighbors. “Better is a neighbor nearby than a brother far away.” (Prov 27:10; cf. Prov 3:29)
It can be difficult to be at peace with everyone, but we OUGHT to try. “Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.” (Rom 15:2) “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” (Rom 12:18) We OUGHT to pursue peace with our neighbor if for no other reason than it interferes with both of us going to heaven. (cf. Mark 9:50; Rom 14:19; Heb 12:14) “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (1Tim 2:3-4).
Lastly, let’s also think of our less fortunate neighbors without showing RESPECT of persons. Jesus said, “When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid.” (Luke 14:12; cf. James 2:1-13). After disregarding our poor neighbors, or those different from us, could we invite them to worship and would they accept?
Who is our neighbor? Great question. The take away for me is to live in such a way as to not make enemies. This doesn’t mean to ignore nor to whitewash the truth of the gospel. Rather it’s about avoiding situations where we might create lifelong enemies that will hinder the spreading of the gospel. “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” (1Cor 9:22)
Spencer is an evangelist for the Franklin & Juniper St church of Christ in Borger Texas. If you live in the Borger area and would like a personal bible study, please reach out & let us know how we can help you know more of God’s word.