Who is my neighbor?

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Who is my neighbor?

Matthew 22:37-40

Jesus said unto him, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

We are all someone special in the eyes of God. Each of us is His special sons and daughters, created in His image and for His Divine purpose. He is the Divine Creator and we are the masterpieces of His creation. Each of us was lovingly designed using specially crafted molds. After each creation, He broke the mold and started over with a fresh new mold and design. Search if we must, but we will never find another person in the entire world exactly like ourselves. We may show similar character traits, but each of us is uniquely different, stamped with the Heavenly seal of approval. No one is more important or special than another, for each of us are individual souls of tremendous worth and our Heavenly Father loves us all the same – equally and unconditionally.

Therefore, let us take careful consideration of how we treat other people. God did not create any of us to be a door mat for people to trample on or wipe their feet on. Nor did he create us to be a foot stool for people to rest their feet upon. Although man was created from the dust of the earth, he was not created to be treated as the dirt beneath someone’s feet. As individual souls of worth, we deserve to be treated with dignity, self-respect, and as persons of self-worth. Differences such as race, national origin, culture, customs, occupation, education level, and religious beliefs should never be deciding factors about how an individual is treated by others.

In the twenty-second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, beginning at verse 35, we read of the account of a lawyer who comes to Jesus tempting Him by asking the question, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” Without hesitation Jesus responds by saying, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Give particular notice to the second commandment, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” That leads us to ask another question, “Who is our neighbor?”

The Greek word that is translated neighbor in the text is the word plesion which has the following meanings: (1) a friend, (2) any other person, and where two are concerned, the other (thy fellow-man, thy neighbour), according to the Jews, any member of the Hebrew nation and commonwealth, and (3) according to Christ, any other man irrespective of nation or religion with whom we live or whom we chance to meet. Therefore, the answer to the question is that everyone, regardless of their physical place in relation to ours, and regardless of their culture and background, is our neighbor. It is interesting to note that in the King James Version of the Scriptures, the Greek word plesion is used only once to mean near, but it is used 16 times to mean neighbor.

To help us further understand who our neighbor is, let us now take a walk down the ancient road that went from Jerusalem to Jericho. In the time of Christ, this road was notorious for its danger and difficulty, and was known as the “Way of Blood” because of the blood which was often shed there by robbers. This is the same road, as you will recall, of which Luke (see Luke 10:25-37) tells us about a Jewish traveler who was beaten, robbed, and left half dead. Luke continues by telling us that first a priest and then a Levite came by, but both avoided the man. Finally, a Samaritan came by. Generally, Samaritans and Jews despised each other, but this Samaritan, out of love and compassion, helps the injured Jew.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, on the day before his assassination, described the road as follows:

I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho. And as soon as we got on that road I said to my wife, “I can see why Jesus used this as the setting for his parable.” It’s a winding, meandering road. It’s really conducive for ambushing. You start out in Jerusalem, which is about twelve hundred miles, or rather, twelve hundred feet above sea level. And by the time you get down to Jericho fifteen or twenty minutes later, you’re about twenty-two hundred feet below sea level. That’s a dangerous road. In the days of Jesus it came to be known as the “Bloody Pass.” And you know, it’s possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it’s possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking, and he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the priest asked, and the first question that the Levite asked was, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?

Dr. King continues:

But then the Good Samaritan came by, and he reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?

This Good Samaritan was no doubt concerned for his own safety, and rightfully so. However, he realized that there was more at stake than just his own well-being. Here lay a total stranger, a despicable Jew in his eyes, but a fellow-man nonetheless, who had been beat up, passed up, and left for dead. How could he just walk away like the others and do absolutely nothing to help his neighbor? And so he willingly lays aside his differences, binds up this man’s wounds, and carries him to safety. But the story doesn’t end there. Not only does he take his neighbor to safe shelter to rest and recover, but he treats this fellow-man as if he were one of his friends and offers to pay for any and all expenses that he might incur.

We should strive to live our lives after the pattern of this Good Samaritan by putting aside our differences and being willing to reach out to help others in time of distress and need. Some people we will know and perhaps will be more eager to give help. Others; however, will be total strangers and so we will naturally be a little more hesitant in rendering similar assistance. Regardless of whether they are well-known or complete strangers, we need to remember that everyone is our neighbor and everyone is a special soul of worth.

One thought on “Who is my neighbor?

    twrightlove said:
    Saturday, 26 October2013 at 22:57

    Great posting! I just wrote this, take a look if you’re free, thanks.

    Sometimes you just have to get involved, stop by, lend a hand to your neighbor! I enjoyed the clip as well.


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