31st May – Being a good neighbour

As we deepen our relationship with God, increasingly we want to do His bidding. In prayer we must regularly ask the question “Lord, what do you want me to do?”. Then we wait for the answer, it may not be immediate, but it will come.

In the bible you can read about some of the things God wants us to do. In Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus was asked what the most important commandment was. He replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments”. These two commandments are the start of what God wants us to do, the foundation of our faith.

This teaching confused people in biblical times, and still confuses people today. Who is our neighbour? In Luke 10:29 a Jewish law scholar asked Jesus that question. Jesus replied with an illustrative story called a parable. Throughout the gospels Jesus used parables to explain his messages making them easily understood.

In one parable Jesus describes how a man had been beaten and left for dead at the side of the road. The first person to pass by him was a Priest and the second a Levite, a priest’s assistant. Neither of them stopped to help. Fortunately, the third person who found him looked after him and gave his time, attention and money to restore the man to health.

He was a Samaritan, a member of the ancient tribe from Samaria, who were hated by the Jews. In Jesus’ parable the Samaritan didn’t even check what tribe the injured man was from but immediately gave assistance, while the religious men walked past the man in need.

The parable’s teaching is as relevant today as it was in Jesus’ time. By making the hero of the story the Samaritan Jesus is saying that each one of us is a neighbour to anyone. Everyone we meet is worthy of our love and compassion, everyone. We don’t get to pick and choose who to care for and who we help.

Jesus was also telling us that being religious isn’t enough. In Matthew 7:16 He underlined this by saying “by your deeds you shall be known”. He wants us to put our faith into action.

Just like the Samaritan our care for others should be automatic and unquestioning. Jesus wants us to be practical Christians prepared to help our neighbour in any way. It doesn’t matter what religion they belong to or even if they have no religion, they are all our neighbours. He wants us to serve in the same way he served when on earth, He is our template for living and He wants us to be examples of the difference having Him in our life can make.

Take a moment today and everyday to consider the people around you who could use your help. Ask God to show you how you can love and serve them this week and how you may better show people His love.