About 2000 years ago a man asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus’ response was the much-loved and oft-told tale of the Good Samaritan. The answer in a nutshell? A good neighbor is one who has compassion on and shows mercy to his neighbor.
Today, a more fitting question would be, “Are you a good neighbor?”
In a society where we are more connected to people on social media whom we’ve never met, are we still good neighbors?
If the person who lived next door needed a safe place to run, would they come to us?
If they were hungry and needed food, would we know it?
Have we gone so far into ourselves that we no longer offer kindness to the persons who are geographically closest to us?
Let’s’ take it a step further, do you know the name of anyone who lives on your street? Is there some place you could run to if you had a crisis?
Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m far from being a ‘Good Samaritan’. My contact with my neighbors is limited to a “Hello, good morning” or a “Good afternoon”, but is that what Jesus wanted? Is that what he meant when he gave the command in Luke 10:37: “Go and do likewise”?
Let’s look at the story of the Good Samaritan together and see if there are lessons that we can learn about being better neighbors. The story is found in Luke 10:25-37.
There are three key things that the Samaritan did that differentiated him from the men who had gone before:
- He saw him (verse 33) – Oftentimes we pass by persons and we don’t even see them, much less acknowledge their needs. If we want to be good neighbors, we have to see the people that we inhabit the earth with.
- He had compassion on him (verse 33) – What is compassion but a sense of “me too”? It’s looking at a person and recognizing that their situation could easily have been your own. When we get to that place where we can feel what someone else feels, it’s easier to lend a hand.
- He went to him (verse 34) – Having compassion on someone is great, but what do we do after that? Do we walk away? Do we fervently wish within our spirit that we could help but then do nothing? Or do we approach the person and offer what assistance we can? It may not be much (at least in our eyes) but it may be enough.
These three steps will not miraculously make us into Super Neighbors, but if we are intentional about them , I believe they will allow us to be the hands of the God we serve. Remember, our neighbor is not just the persons we live beside. They are those who serve us and those whom we serve. They are the persons we worship with and the ones we work with.
Lord, too often we forget to notice the pain and suffering of those around us. We allow ourselves to be incubated against sorrow. Forgive us, Father. Open the eyes of our heart Lord so that we can minister to those around us. Give us a heart like your son Jesus. In Your name I pray. Amen.
I’m ready to be a good neighbor, are you?