Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Good Neighbor

Once, as I was rolling my dumpster to the curb in preparation for the next day’s trash pickup, I noticed my next-door neighbor’s dumpster still sitting beside the garage. I knew my neighbor was out of town, but would be back home before the next trash day. So, I wheeled the dumpster out to the curb for him. I remembered making a mad dash in my pajamas early on trash day several times when I had forgotten and I would have appreciated someone watching out for me that way. I felt that I was being a good neighbor.  

Jesus once told His disciples to love their neighbor as themselves. In response, someone asked the question, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). This parable shows that our neighbor is anyone in need whom we can help. Indeed, if we have the ability to help someone and the opportunity to do so, it creates an obligation on our part which we cannot neglect.

The real issue, however, is how we can love others as ourselves. First we must ask, “how do we love ourselves?” The answer is—quite naturally! Nowhere in the Bible does God command us to love ourselves. He doesn’t have to! It comes easily to our nature to be selfish. When we really examine how we love ourselves, some challenging things come to light. We make excuses for our bad behavior. “Well, I was just tired and under stress.” We give ourselves the benefit of the doubt. We are optimistic we will do better next time. We do not focus on the mistake, but rather on the good in us. We never think we are evil people or lost causes. We think we are basically good people who just slipped up. Here’s the rub. Should we not extend this same courtesy to everyone else for their mistakes? Let that sink in for a moment..

The parable of the Good Samaritan is a very appropriate answer to the question about who my neighbor is. Not only does it show us that everyone is our neighbor, but it also sets a gold standard for being that good neighbor. The Samaritan did not help the man because he knew him. They were not close friends. He did not hope to be rewarded or praised for it. He simply found a man in trouble, took care of him, made provisions for his care, and left quietly. Is that not exactly what Jesus did? He found us when we had been beaten by Satan, robbed of hope, and left for dead. Jesus healed us, tended our wounds, made provision for our care (the church), and left suddenly. But He also promised to return. Let us make sure we can say we were good neighbors to all people when He comes back. Let us follow Jesus’ example and treat people the way He treated us. Let us cut others the same slack we give ourselves so generously.

In His service,
Rob Lester <9)))><

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