Only Jesus could simplify spiritual matters in a way that anyone can understand. He summed up the Ten Commandments into two–love God and love your neighbor (Mark 12:30, 31). When a lawyer asked Jesus the question, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered by telling a parable about the man who was attacked on his way to Jericho by robbers and left for dead on the road. Two men passed by, first a priest who passed by on the other side and then a Levite who looked and passed by the other side. It’s interesting that both of these men who were associated with the priesthood did not minister to the injured man but left him there until a kind stranger stopped to help him.
Through this wonderful illustration of love and compassion, we learn that our neighbor is not only the person who lives next door or opposite but any person in need. To be a neighbor is to care for others–show kindness and to help them in whatever way we can. After Jesus finished telling the story, He asked the question, “So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” The lawyer replied, “He who showed mercy on him.” Jesus told him to go and do likewise (Luke 10:36, 37).
A neighbor is not necessarily someone of our race, culture, background or religion. It was a Samaritan, not a Jew who stopped to help the man. In those times, Jews didn’t associate with Samaritans (John 4:9). To be a neighbor is not to allow our prejudices to prevent us from helping those who are different from us.
When it comes to loving your neighbor partiality isn’t a factor. The Samaritan didn’t see an enemy lying at the side of the road but a person who was badly in need of help. He felt compassion for him and getting off his donkey, he went over to him and bandaged his wounds before taking him to an inn where he could recuperate. Being a neighbor means setting aside our differences and demonstrating the love of God to others.
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right – James 2:8