Who Is My Neighbor?

Text: Luke 10:25-29

One of the fundamental commandments – in the Law of Moses and in the Law of Christ – is to love your neighbor. When a lawyer discussed this with Jesus, he asked, “Who is my neighbor?” This is a legitimate question. We need to know who is our neighbor and how we are to treat them.

What Is a “Neighbor”?

  • This is a different question from the one we asked in a previous lesson (“Who is my brother?”) – brother is exclusive and limited, not applied to just anyone; neighbor is inclusive and less limited, could potentially include anyone
  • The word neighbor means one who is near – therefore, who our neighbor is depends on where we are
  • We may love all men (cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:12) – this is about our attitude
  • Do we love our neighbor? – this is about our actions; the Samaritan “proved to be a neighbor” (Luke 10:36)

Who Is My Neighbor?

  • Jesus answered this with the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37); discussed three groups/people – those who did harm (robbers); those who ignored the need (priest, Levite); one who helped the man in need (the Samaritan)
  • Jesus asked the lawyer who one proved to be a neighbor (Luke 10:36) – the answer was obvious and the lawyer knew the answer (Luke 10:37)
  • When the lawyer answered correctly, Jesus told him to “go and do the same” (Luke 10:37)
  • The lawyer asked the initial question in order to “justify himself” (Luke 10:29) – in other words, he was looking for a reason to exclude people from the category of “neighbor
  • Jesus didn’t give an exclusive list (fellow Jews, friends, people in one’s neighborhood, etc.) – He taught that whoever we know that needs a neighbor, we should be their neighbor

What to Do Toward Our Neighbor

  • Love your neighbor (Luke 10:27) – sincere interest in their well-being (Philippians 2:3-4)
  • Regard him as an equal (Luke 10:27) – “as yourself“; all are equal before God (Acts 17:26)
  • Help your neighbor (Luke 10:33-35) – we should be willing to do good to all people (Galatians 6:10)
  • Show mercy toward him (Luke 10:37) – compassion/kindness; so God will show us mercy (Matthew 5:7)

How Do We Do This?

  • Be willing to help – when we help others, we must choose to do so (cf. Acts 5:4; 2 Corinthians 8:12)
  • Be able to help – what is “acceptable” will be “according to what a person has” (2 Corinthians 8:12); this is going to require us working (Ephesians 4:28)
  • Help directly – nothing wrong with giving to charity; also many government programs to help people; but being a neighbor is about providing help directly (Luke 10:34-35)

How Do We Not Do This?

  • Don’t become a burden/annoyance to them (Proverbs 25:17) – can be over-friendly and cause resentment
  • Don’t treat everyone the same – not about treating people differently due to race, nationality, etc.; this is about helping those in need (Luke 3:10-11)
  • Don’t enable sinful behavior – laziness (2 Thessalonians 3:10; Proverbs 16:26); drug/alcohol abuse (Proverbs 24:11)

Conclusion

  • Jesus taught that we are to love our neighbor
  • Who is our neighbor? – anyone we are in a position to help
  • We need to be ready and willing to prove to be a neighbor when opportunities arise

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