“One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?” The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” – Luke 10:25-28.
In Luke 10, we read about a conversation between Jesus and an expert in the law. This was common for Jesus as His teachings attracted scribes, Pharisees, and Jewish scholars. In this interaction, the expert asked Jesus “what should I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus’ response gets him to answer the question by referencing what the expert already knows. Jesus says the response is correct, and if the expert does this, “You will live.”
But the expert goes a little further. He wants to know how far he must go. He asks Jesus, “…And who is my neighbor?” (vs. 29) In other words, are there limits or other criteria to use to determine who is a neighbor? Jesus tells the familiar story of the Good Samaritan. The Samaritan is one of the last people the expert would consider a neighbor, yet he still did the right thing to help someone.
Jesus gets the expert to admit the Samaritan did the right thing and says, “…now go and do the same.” He is expanding the expert’s definition of neighbor to include everybody because loving people is always right.
Doing the right thing for people should be our mindset as well. This passage of scripture charges us to live life by doing the right thing. Love your neighbor, who is everyone and anyone. Work to keep your eyes open to be able to see them clearly.
The challenging part about loving another person is looking at things from their perspective. This is so hard, especially when our side of things makes so much more sense than what we can see of their side. But when we prioritize loving them even if we don’t fully understand or agree, that’s when Jesus comes to life in us.
Francis Chan notes: “How would my life change if I actually thought of each person I came into contact with as Christ—the person driving painfully slow in front of me, the checker at the grocery store who seems more interested in chatting than ringing up my items, the member of my own church family with whom I can’t seem to have a conversation and not get annoyed? If we believe that, as Jesus said, the two greatest commands are to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself,’ then this passage has aplication to every part of our life.
Do this and you will live.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Do you see everyone as a neighbor, as Jesus defined it?
- If you can see them as neighbors, are you loving them well?
- Where are instances that you have/have not loved?