27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
Today we will look more closely at the friendship side of the four ships that we started discussing last week. For the matter of this blog I used friendship more loosely. Some may say my definition is closer to a neighbor. Basically, it is those people not in our direct circles which can even include strangers we meet along the way.
God makes it clear we need to prioritize our relationships. First comes our love and devotion to god. Then comes the way we treat others. More specifically, this passage teaches us that we need to treat others the way we want to be treated.
Is it easy or challenging to get to know your neighbors? Are you bombarded by all the disability questions? I know when we lived in Minneapolis, I tended to be initially shy around neighbors, but all our neighbors were treasures. It was great to exchange a word of greeting or to talk about the weather. I knew that these neighbors were extra ears and eyes for our home and our kids. I remember one day we had a gas leak during a renovation project. Chris, five, was in the bath tub and we just grabbed him and his clothes. Our neighbor quickly invited us in to help him get dressed. It sounds like such a little thing, but it was a tremendous help and comfort to know our neighbors cared enough to reach out.
Now, I realize, not all neighbors are so warm and welcoming. We had a gentleman living across the alley from us that clearly made me uncomfortable. Instead of just being negative all the time towards him, and teaching our kids the way we did not want them to act, Ken and I took time to pray for him. We were not sure how else we could reach out to him, but taking the time to pray for him defused some of the tension that developed.
Now let’s look at the last part of this passage…someone came across a person in great need. They stopped, helped and even made sure that when they left the person, he still received assistance. This is a great example of how we can help someone, but still finish whatever we initially set out to do.
How many times have you come across someone in need? Do you tend to give freely what you have or do you figure that it is none of your concern… God clearly tells us to treat others as we want to be treated. Whether it is a homeless person looking for change, or someone needing directions; Ken and I help in any way possible. I remember one time Chris wanted to help a homeless guy get something to eat. The man kept going into the restraint’s dumpster for food that was spoiled. Chris worked at this restaurant and he asked the manager if he could just hand the food over to the needy man. It was against company policy…so instead Chris noticed when he was outside and he would leave the food by the dumpster instead of throwing it inside.
This may sound insignificant, but Chris was trying to show respect both towards his work and towards this hungry man.
It is my prayer that you start noticing how you treat others around you? do you shine the light of Jesus or do you get muddled in the negativity of life. Remember those of us with disabilities often find ourselves vulnerable and needing help…let’s be an example of how gracious we can be helping others.