“And who is my neighbour?”
Luke 10 v 29
The story of the Good Samaritan is easily one of the most famous moral stories ever told. I’m sure you know it: a man is beaten and left by the road, two of his fellow countrymen, religious leaders no less, see him but walk on by. But a Samaritan, the hated enemy, stops to help the man.
Within that simple story are so many lessons on what it means to be loving. Here are just a few:
Love sees those in need. It’s so easy to ignore people in need. It can be distressing to us and so we cross over to the other side of the road. The Samaritan didn’t. He saw a man in need and love compelled him to act.
Religiosity is no substitute for love. It’s no coincidence that the two men who walked by were a Priest and Levite, two upstanding religious men. They would have known the faith inside our, prayer beautiful eloquent prayers, but all that is meaningless if you forget the most important part of faith: Love.
Love knows no tribes or boundaries. Jews and Samaritans were historic enemies with centuries of bad blood between them. Yet the Samaritan didn’t see an enemy he saw a man in need
Love goes the extra mile. The Samaritan didn’t just patch up the man, he gave him the best care he could, paying out of his own pocket for his care and making sure that he didn’t end up in debt due to his care. It can be easy to do a one –off good deed, but it takes commitment and sacrifice to care for someone in the long term.
Finally it tells us that being a neighbour is something you choose. When the lawyer asked Jesus ‘who is my neighbour?’ he was asking, ‘who are the people I need to care about, and who can I ignore’. But this is all wrong. Being a neighbour isn’t just about living next to someone or being from the same background. A true neighbour is someone who chooses to be a neighbour.
So if we ask today ‘who is my neighbour?’, Jesus would respond the same way as he did to the lawyer, ‘who are you going to choose to be a neighbour to?’