Who Is My Neighbour?
by Liz Griffin
5 May 2014« Previous Day | Next Day »
Someone once asked Jesus which was the most important commandment and He said ‘The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these’ (Mark 12:29-31).
The Bible tells us that loving your neighbour as yourself is most important in God’s law, second only to loving God with every part of your being. The apostle James calls it the ‘royal law’. This royal law is found in the scriptures: ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself’. If you obey this law you are doing right’ (James 2:8).
But a man asked Jesus to explain exactly who his neighbour was (probably so he could avoid too much of a challenge). Jesus then told him the story of the man who was mugged on the road and left wounded. Two religious people decided not to get involved and ignored his body lying there, but a Samaritan traveller went out of his way to help him in love and compassion. Jesus asked the question ‘Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbour to the man who fell among the robbers?’ When the answer came,‘The one who showed him mercy’ Jesus said to him, ‘You go, and do likewise’ (Luke 10:36-37).
Jesus challenges us to see a neighbour as anyone in need. We’re meant to be helping those who’re suffering in any way, even if they’re not people we would normally want to reach out to. God had laid it all out long ago - exactly what He expected of His people. ‘You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the LORD’ (Leviticus 19:18). They were to be kind and caring to one another.
But, as if that’s not difficult enough, in the same chapter of Leviticus God stretches the boundaries even further. He requires that there must be no discrimination against foreign people, immigrants and refugees who’ve come to live amongst the Israelites. ‘Do not mistreat foreigners living in your country, but treat them just as you treat your own citizens. Love foreigners as you love yourselves, because you were foreigners one time in Egypt. I am the LORD your God’ Leviticus 19:33-34.
I know God’s saying the same thing to His people today. I once lived as a foreigner in Japan. I experienced the reality of culture shock, and observed it in others. But we foreigners would all help the newcomers, who couldn’t read the Japanese labels. We’d all been through this experience ourselves. I also worked in a telephone help line which gave support to English speakers, many of whom suffered depression because of living in a culture that was so different to their own.
Today there are immigrants all around us. Many of them come to Ellel Ministries Centres in need of help. I believe God wants us to see their needs and reach out to them with His love and compassion.
Prayer: Lord, please help us to see others through Your eyes. May we follow the commands You give to us to love You, and to love others as ourselves. Amen/
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