February 6th, 2023 - Love Your Neighbor

Love Your Neighbor

Good Morning and welcome back to our final week of prayer and fasting devotions. As we settle in to begin the week the same way we have every day during this time. We pause. We wait in expectation for The Lord and ask Him to speak.

Take a moment to take a deep breath. Don’t rush past this moment. Let’s invite the Spirit to speak to us in a fresh way and then move us into action.  

Father. Jesus. Holy Spirit. We want to see your kingdom break through. Mold us into your vessels today.

Our passage today is one that leaves us with an exceptional challenge. A message Jesus displays with His own life and challenges His followers to abide by.

One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”
The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”[a]
 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”
The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.

“By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by.  A Temple assistant[b] walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.

“Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’

“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.

The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”

This story Jesus tells is radical for many reasons. The religious elite egregiously fail to act in mercy and the hero is a social outcast among the Hebrew people. It removes the constructs of the definition of neighbor to essentially all of humanity is our responsibility to love and serve. Friend or foe. Family or Stranger. Rich or poor.

 Jesus gives handlebars to the religious expert for how to put this ancient command of loving your neighbor as yourself into practice.  The message is clear. Every human being is made in the image of God and is deserving of His mercy. This mercy is made evident through the service of His people. Essentially becoming His hands and feet, putting His character on display through our actions. When we serve others in love and mercy we carry out the work of God’s redemption. 

Christians should always be known by their extraordinary love and service. These are the tools of the trade. We are most like our Savior when we not only speak the words of Christ, but act with the same measure of compassion He did. Genesis 2 says that all humanity was made in God’s image. Colossians 1 tells us that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. If we want to know for what and why we were created, we simply look to the words and deeds of Jesus. 

Intentional acts of serving build the kingdom of God here on earth as it is in heaven. They redeem the curse of creation by putting right what has been wronged. 

How is God calling you to serve someone today? Is there a neighbor or coworker that comes to mind that needs an act of Christlike compassion? How can you serve at church, at home, in your neighborhood, at work? There are many resources through the church that are available to you to put potential acts of serving into practice. Be strategic, be intentional.

So Father, we yield our lives to you. We admit our tendency to look inward. We admit how often we can cross the other side of the road, missing the opportunities to put on display your mercy. We can care more about our busy schedule or preferences than the reality of seeing God’s kingdom come. Lord, forgive us. Open our eyes today to see the broken and those in need of compassion. Give us the power, resources, and grace we need to put the words of Jesus into action.