Jesus commands us to love our neighbor like ourselves. But without practical guidance, this command is just static among the noise. It’s a command we cherish on Sunday, but eagerly bury in the backyard on Monday. The reason is we get stuck on the basic questions we never even thought to ask.
So who is my neighbor? And what does it mean to love them? Does loving my neighbor change now that a worldwide pandemic prevents me from even seeing them?
The Answer To “Who Is My Neighbor?”
We all know of the Good Samaritan. But do you know why Jesus told this story? If you remember, the expert in the law wanted Jesus to narrowly define who his neighbor was. And just like us, he was hoping for an easy answer so he could justify ignoring everyone else who wasn’t his neighbor.
But Jesus wouldn’t let him get away with it. And so it’s in this context that Jesus tells a story about a man who was robbed and left half dead on the side of the road. A man who was ignored by two other passersby, and then rescued by a good Samaritan.
The Samaritan was good because he took pity on the man, washed his wounds, and even paid for his lodging. After telling this story, Jesus then asks: “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus then told him, “Go and do likewise.”
It’s clear from the story above, that being a neighbor is not about distance. The Samaritan didn’t live next door to the guy who was robbed. In fact, he lived a long way off and was just passing by.
But while he was passing by, he had an opportunity to be a neighbor because he was in a position to have an impact on a person in need. So being a neighbor has nothing to do with distance. But everything to do with our influence. If you have the ability to have an impact on someone, to have influence on them, then this person is your neighbor!
So start asking Jesus who your neighbor is. He will then open up your eyes to your coworker, the cashier at the checkout counter, the guy at the car repair shop, and to the various people you come into contact with while carrying out your life activities. This even includes your pals on Facebook or your colleagues overseas. These are your neighbors. These are the people you have influence with.
How Are We To Love Our Neighbor?
Jesus made it clear that we are to love our neighbor like ourselves, AND that loving them means showing them mercy. But don’t wait until your neighbor is beat up and robbed before showing them an act of kindness. You can start right now! Mercy and kindness can be proactive.
The reality is that we live in a world of evil. It is not neutral but rather a massive beatdown to our spirit and sense of well being. Virtually everyone you meet is constantly getting lied to, bullied, harassed or overwhelmed.
People are lonely, tired and stretched to their limits. They are facing increased workloads, new illnesses, financial distress, alienation from family, self hatred and numerous physical, emotional and spiritual attacks from our enemy, Satan. They are also being besieged by their fellow man. Yes, you may never know their problems. But this should never stop you from showing them mercy.
Tips on How To Love Your Neighbor as You Love Yourself
So here’s the fun part. Jesus says we should love our neighbor like ourselves. Right? So how do you love yourself? Now is the time to get creative. Don’t think drudgery, think fun. If you got an unexpected gift what would most surprise you? What would lift your spirits? What would make you smile? What surprises have given you the most joy in your life?
This is how you love your neighbor. Especially when you don’t know what they like most. Then again, you can always ask them what they like. Just casually drop it into a conversation as you do with other things. The same goes if they have a need in their life. Become an active listener. And be ready to act!
Use Amazon, Instacart & Door Dash To Love Your Neighbor at a Distance
Don’t let a crummy old quarantine keep you from loving your neighbor. Send them gifts, food and even spirits using the online services above.
Is your colleague harassed and overworked? Send him beer from Amazon! This is what I did for two of my colleagues overseas. They were harried and clearly depressed. But I was able to casually talk about the beer I liked, and then learn the ones they liked. From there it was easy to get their home address from a manager.
My German colleague got beer sent locally compliments of Amazon DE. And my British colleague got a similar gift from Amazon UK. The German colleague who is normally stoic, suddenly had tears in his eyes!
But beer is just the tip of the iceberg. Does a working mom need groceries? Or a single guy who hates cooking still crave Chinese food? Of course they do!
Thanks to Instacart and Doordash loving your neighbor is now easier than ever. These online services allow you to deliver groceries and takeout food to virtually anywhere in the USA. Just type in their Zip Code for the supermarkets and restaurants local to where they live! Then choose the items you want delivered and even include the tip. Within a few hours your gift can arrive at your neighbor’s doorstep.
Bottom Line: You can be a neighbor to anyone you know, anywhere in the world. It’s easy, it’s cheap and it’s fun. So ask Jesus to get you excited about it. And to launch you into the joy of being a good neighbor.
Blogs on How To Give To Your Neighbors
How to be a cheerful giver. Knowing who to give to and what to give them!
Cheap On Things But Lavish On People (Taking A Delight In Giving)
Is it OK to spend on others and come along for the ride? Or must you be a monk and always be in self denial? How do you know when you’re too much in love with this world versus having a joyful time?
The Joy of Creative Giving
Spice up your giving so that it’s fun, exciting and brings people together.
Finding Jesus at the Dollar Store
Are we asking God the wrong questions when we pray to Him? Is it any wonder we’re not getting the right answers?