Who IS My Neighbor?

“Love your neighbor.”

After my last post on loving our neighbor, I brainstormed the age-old question, Who IS my neighbor?” 

This question, from Luke 10:29, was originally posed to Jesus by a lawyer, who was “wishing to justify himself.”   [Some things never change 🙂 ]

The Greek word for neighbor comes from plesion, which means “the near.”  So a neighbor is anyone, everyone who is near:

Other Family
Neighboring neighbors
People at church
Strangers we walk past
The cashier, waitress, security guard, traffic cop, taxi driver we encounter
The homeless person we walk past, or try not to walk past
The immigrants, legal and illegal, that we notice each day

After Jesus shares a parable in response to the lawyer’s question (known to many as The Good Samaritan), Jesus asks,  “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?”

The lawyer responded, “The one who showed mercy toward him.”

Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”  

John Wesley commented on this Scripture, saying,

“‘Go and do the like manner’.  Let us go and do likewise, regarding every man as our neighbor who needs our assistance. Let us renounce that bigotry and party zeal which would contract our hearts into an insensibility for all the human race, but for a small number whose sentiments and practices are so much our own, that our love of them is but self love reflected!”

Everyone is our neighbor.

Matthew Henry drew a similar conclusion from Jesus’ instruction:

No one will ever love God and his neighbor with any measure of pure, spiritual love, who is not made a partaker of converting grace….It is lamentable to observe how selfishness governs all ranks; how many excuses men will make to avoid trouble or expense in relieving others.

“But the true Christian has the law of love written in his heart. The Spirit of Christ dwells in him; Christ’s image is renewed in his soul. The parable is a beautiful explanation of the law of loving our neighbor as ourselves, without regard to nation, party, or any other distinction…. The believer considers that Jesus (thus) loved him, and gave his life for him…and having shown him mercy, he bids him go and do likewise.  It is the duty of us all, in our places, and according to our ability to succor, help and relieve all that are in distress and necessity.” 

Everyone is our neighbor. 

Lord, help us to daily respond in sincere love and mercy to everyone You’ve placed in our lives, just as You’ve demonstrated unconditional kindness, compassion, mercy and love towards us!! 

4 thoughts on “Who IS My Neighbor?

  1. If only all Christians will follow this rule, I think we can turn the world upside down!

    Lord, help us to really love our neighbors!

    Thank you for sharing this…

  2. Linda,
    What a great post! If you want to find out some more interesting details about the story Jesus told, then do some digging and find out about the Samaritans and their relationship with the Jews. Very enlightening!

    I think we sometimes put conditions on the hand we extend. In other words, if the people we consider helping meet certain criteria, then we’ll do what needs to be done; if not “oh, well.”

  3. Thanks to you both for your comments. Yes, I think we all too often put conditions, real or subconscious, on our service…I long to grow in my giving, my serving, and learn from Jesus about how to meet the needs of those He’s placed in my life.

    Tomorrow I hope to post some thoughts from John R. Stott about this subject.

    Thanks again! Linda

  4. Pingback: Who is My Neighbor? – 2 « Absolutegrace

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