Love Thy Neighbor
Last updated 1/10/2021 at 11:43am
In Luke's Gospel (chapter 10) we read about 70 disciples, who had been sent out by Jesus, returning to the Lord sharing what they had experienced. Jesus told them that they should rejoice, not for what they had accomplished, but because their names were written in heaven.
Hearing this, a certain lawyer (an interpreter and teacher of the Mosaic law) asked the Lord, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus replied, you are a lawyer, you tell me. The lawyer stated, "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." (Luke 10:27)
Jesus told the man that he had answered correctly. The lawyer, apparently believing he had loved the Lord completely, wanted clarification on the second part of the statement, asked the Lord, "Who is my neighbor?"
According to the Jews, a neighbor was any member of the Hebrew nation and commonwealth. They believed that they were indeed to love their neighbor. They also believed that it was perfectly acceptable to hate their enemies. Of course Jesus had earlier declared "Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you." (Luke 6:27, 28)
Who is my neighbor? According to Jesus, it is any other person regardless of nation or religion with whom we live or whom we chance to meet. We could add to the list of neighbors any other person regardless of race, political party, and those with differing religious views.
Loving our neighbor as ourselves does not mean that we must love ourselves before we can love anyone else; it means that in the same way we take care of ourselves and are concerned about our own interests, we should take care of and have concern for the interests of others.
The Apostle Paul told the believers in Philippi, "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." Philippians 2:3,4
Later in His discourse Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan illustrating more vividly who our neighbor is. I encourage you to read the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37.
Let us follow our Lord's example and work at genuinely loving our neighbor.
Michael Wilder is pastor of New Life Baptist. He can be reached at 606-465-3097.