“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. – Romans 12:10.
Sometimes I learn my lessons the hard way. Perhaps you do as well. Sometimes I learn from other people’s mistakes and sometimes I learn from my own. And there have been times where I didn’t learn at all, at least the first time it happened. Bottom line, I don’t have them catalogued or written down in a notebook, but I have I made a ton of often very regrettable mistakes, and thus generated some regret along the way. I still make mistakes. And it’s still how I occasionally learn.
Some of those mistakes and regrets involve loving people as God would have us love them: deeply and unconditionally. And in the same vein, showing love through action to all those on our journey. The familiar story of the Good Samaritan illustrates who is our neighbor. The well-known parable is found in Luke 10:25-37.
This could happen because there was a dangerous road and those who traveled alone were vulnerable. The Priest and Levite were religious people and pillars of society. They were known to work in the temple and be close to God. The Samaritan was generally hated because there was great animosity between the Jews and the Samaritans that went back hundreds of years. Yet he is the one who acted as a neighbor.
Jesus is making the point that to really love your neighbor you have to see beyond race, or economics or any of the other boundaries that we set as a society. Jesus shows that love must transcend these boundaries.
Jesus changed the question from “who is my neighbor?” to “how do I love my neighbor?” The answer was pretty straightforward. You love your neighbor by treating that person, regardless of who they are, the way you would want to be treated. This applies to anyone: your spouse, your boss, a friend, a co-worker, somebody you just met.
But how are we supposed to do this? This call to love reflects the faith that leads to eternal life because the Samaritan did for the man what Jesus has done for us.
Imagine how much more motivated you would be if you had been the one the good Samaritan helped. You would never forget that kindness. You would always stop to help another person because you had been the recipient of great grace. Maybe that is why this is the example of faith. As Christians we are all the man beside the road. We were all unable to save ourselves and Jesus stopped to save us.
Jesus asks us to love as He loved. We should strive to love deeply as He loves: not as a program or as an obligation, but as a normal part of life. Just work hard to show love to the people in your path and in your life.
- How do you define neighbor? How does Jesus define neighbor?
- What is the major difference in your mind between the world’s view of love and God’s view of love?
- How can we all express more compassion and care for one another?
- Does loving your neighbor as yourself help explain how Jesus loved?
- What can we do this week to love others more deeply?