Food for Friday

But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? Luke 10:29

Good question, who was the neighbour of a doctor of the law? The man who asked this question was from the top echelons of those who studied the Old Testament. He could recite more Scripture verses than you and me put together. He had a very narrow band of society with which he was willing to associate. Other scribes and members of the Sanhedrin were within his circle, as were the high priest and the senior officials in the temple. Beyond these, he was very careful who he allowed to come into any level of acquaintance. He had to conduct business, but would never stoop to familiarity with those usurous swindlers from whom he bought his groceries or clothing or household supplies. He held his nose to pay his taxes, hating to even face the disgusting crowd that consorted with Rome for the sake of a pay cheque. He expected admiration, but no familiarity, from those who shared the street with him as he moved about the city. He had very few neighbours, in his estimation. So there weren’t many people who he felt obligated to love as himself.

How broad is the band of people to whom you and I feel an obligation to love as ourselves? Are our neighbours just the folks who live next door? Maybe a few close relatives, and the people within our own Assembly. Or do we limit it to only a certain portion of those in the Assembly (we don’t have cliques in our Assembly, do we?)? If this doctor of the law had faced you and asked who your neighbours are, how large would be the list? For this lawyer, placing a limit on this list was a way to establish his self-righteousness. Do we do likewise?

We know the story of the Good Samaritan. An outpouring of love in action flowed across a harsh racial line, and involved considerable effort and expense. Compassion and practical consideration were very evident. Can we see ourselves getting involved in such a situation? If not, we don’t love our neighbour as ourself… and we break half the Decalogue!

Our great Example, the Lord Jesus, loved His neighbours as Himself. We were the neighbours He lifted from a half-dead state to care and comfort, and eternal blessing. Can we love our neighbours like He did? -Jim MacIntosh

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