It’s been said, “One cannot define one’s neighbor; one can only be a neighbor.”
Haddon Robinson said, “Your neighbor is anyone whose need you see, whose need you are able to meet.”
A neighbor is someone who says, “What is mine is God’s and what is God’s belongs to my neighbor because my neighbor belongs to Him.” (Larson)
We read it a lot in Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31), “Let each of us please His neighbor for his good, to build him up” (Romans 15:2), “Do not plan evil against your neighbor, who dwells trustingly beside you” (Proverbs 3:29), “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10).
Have you ever wondered why God puts so much emphasis on this? You can even say it’s the underlying message of God’s Word throughout. So, why is treating our neighbor (that means each other) with respect and service so important? What do we learn by serving each other?
Imagine if everyone on earth thought this way. Imagine if everyone saw everyone else as their neighbor worthy of being served. What an amazing world this would be.
Would there be hunger in the world? Would there be senators and congressmen bickering at each other? Would homelessness even be a thing? Imagine if we all followed the Bibles advice by the principles of the Scripture quoted above?
When I think of heaven, that’s what I picture. No jealousy, no anger, only love for each other. In heaven I imagine each soul more intent on serving others than themselves, where peace reigns because strife has been eliminated.
Maybe that’s why God is so intent on passing on this message of neighborly affection, because He knows that if we could achieve this, it would be heaven on earth.
So, if it makes so much sense, why do we not seem to be able to follow God’s advice? Of course, it’s because of the sickness of sin. Sin brings with it selfishness and pride. It causes us to think of ourselves first. It convinces us that our time is much too valuable to waste helping someone who probably doesn’t deserve it.
Sin blocks us from answering God’s call to love our neighbors as ourselves because it’s more intent on making sure we treat ourselves as we think we should be treated. We might get to our neighbor’s needs after we have met all of our own, but surely not before.
Luke 10:27 reminds us, …”You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.” So why would he group these two commandments together? Why are these two the fulfillment of all the rest.
It’s because, when we love our neighbor, we are, in effect, loving God. When we love our neighbor we mimic God’s kingdom call. From Matthew 25:31-40:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
When we serve our neighbor, we serve God Himself. When we give our time, talents and treasures for the betterment of others, we bless others with the gifts we have been given to serve with. Serve your Lord by being there for your neighbor. Show His light in all you do. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father forgive us for all of those times we have thought of ourselves before our neighbor. Teach us to serve others as a testimony of our love for you and build within us the courage and desire to want to make a kingdom difference in our neighbor’s lives. Amen.