Good Neighbors

Our son, Grant, has been here helping teach a two-week tennis camp. We’ve also, inspite of the 95-100 degree weather, been working on some outdoor projects, one of which was putting up a new sign he painted for us at the turnoff to our lane. As we were working on it, we needed to remove a large post from the ground, along with a section of fence. I looked up and there were two of our neighbors pulling up the big post for us, and then helping with the fence.  On other occasions, we’ve needed to have some heavy rocks or other objects moved and they are right there to help. The grass in our barrow pit is often mowed by one of them, or our mailbox plowed out in the winter without our ever asking for help. We know that if we need someone to help water when we are gone or to watch our place, that they are always willing to come to our aid.  How great it is to have neighbors who not only are there for us when we need them, but often see a need and just meet it without ever being asked.

     I can’t help but think about the story in Scripture of the “Good Samaritan.”  A lawyer had put Jesus to the test by asking Him, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Lk. 10:25). Jesus replied with the question, “What is in the law? How does it read to you?” (v. 26). “And the man answered and said, ‘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'” (V. 27).  To which Jesus responded: “You have answered correctly; DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE” (V. 28). But then the man wanted Jesus to clarify just who he neighbor is (v. 29) and Jesus responded with the story which we have commonly called “the Good Samaritan.”   Jesus tells of a man who, when traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho, was robbed and beaten and left in critical condition along the road. A priest and a Levite both came upon the poor man but did not stop to help him. Then a Samaritan came by, had compassion on the man, and stopped to administer first aid and put him on his donkey to carry him to an inn, paying the innkeeper to care for him, and nurture him back to health, promising to return and pay him further if need be (vv. 30-35).  Jesus then asked the man which of the three–the priest, the Levite, the Samaritan–proved to be a neighbor to the man left to die along the roadside (v. 36). The man, of course, said, “The one who had mercy toward him. And Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do the same'” (v. 37).
     The story has a spiritual parallel. Jesus is the Good Samaritan and the poor traveler who fell among the thieves represents us, marred by sin, and dying in our sinful condition. The failure of the priest and the Levite to assist illustrates the inability of the Law and the ordinances–religion–to save man out of his sad plight. The oil and the wine which the Samaritan applied represent the holy Spirit and the cleansing blood of Jesus. The inn symbolizes the Church and the money speaks of rewards for those who minister to man’s spiritual and physical needs. The promised return by the Samaritan would be a picture of the greater reward in the future when Christ comes again.
     But, while we can see an obvious spiritual lesson in this story of the “Good Samaritan,” we also see the importance of coming to the aid of those in need and not ignoring them and walking on by. Whether they live next door to us or not, we are to be a good neighbor to them. We shouldn’t just always wait to be asked for help, but should graciously meet a need when we see one. We are very grateful to have good neighbors who do that. I trust that we are the same to them.
     How about you? Do you get so busy with your life and your goals that you miss the opportunities to be of help to others. Paul tells us that we are to “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit; but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:3-5).  Be sensitive to the needs of those around you, and do what you can to assist them, and do it all in the name of Christ and for His glory. It may even be instrumental in those you help coming to know the Savior.    What could you do for your “neighbor” today?
                 Forever His,
                                Pastor Dave

About Pastor Dave

Until my retirement 2 years ago, I pastored an independent Bible church in Northwest Montana for nearly 38 years. During that time I also helped establish a Christian school, and a Bible Camp. I am married and have children and grandchildren. The Wisdom of the Week devotional is an outgrowth of my desire to share what God is doing in my life and in our world, and to challenge you to be a part.
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