Bible Q&A: Who Is My Neighbor?

Who is my neighbor?

A lawyer, testing Jesus, had asked him about obtaining eternal life.  Jesus referred him to the Old Law, and the lawyer cited the commands to love God with all your being and love your neighbor as yourself.  Jesus acknowledged that he had answered correctly, but the lawyer, “desiring to justify himself,” then asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”  Jesus replied by telling the parable of the good Samaritan, in which a Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho and was robbed and left for dead.  Two of his fellow Jews, both the cultural epitomes of who were considered to be pious and devout, had the opportunity to help him and walked on by.  It was a Samaritan, one of the race of whom the Jews despised, who found the man and went out of his way to help him, even to the point of opening himself up to being defrauded himself.  Jesus got the lawyer to acknowledge that it was the Samaritan who was a neighbor to the Jew who was in need, and then urged him to do likewise (Lk. 10:25-37).

From this we gather that our neighbor is the one who is willing to help us in our time of need, even if he happens to be one whom we do not love and may even despise.  The fact that God wishes us to be like this person shows that true Christian love for others goes beyond loving those who love you back, those who may look like you, and those with whom you have no problem.  Loving your neighbor as yourself requires being a true neighbor to others, i.e., being willing to show Christ-like love, compassion, and aid to anyone who is in need, no matter who they are.

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