November 21, 2019

Who is My Neighbor?

Luke 10:25-37

He wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?"

—  Luke 10:29

An expert in the law wanted to cover every detail to justify himself. He wanted to be sure he could inherit eternal life. He knew he had to love God first and to love his neighbor as himself. But now he had one more question for Jesus: “Who is my neighbor?”

The legal expert asked the right person, because someday Jesus will judge everyone according to the way they have served others for his sake (Matthew 25:31-46). And, as we learn from Ephesians 2:8-10, being saved by God’s grace motivates us to do good and show God’s love to others.

Jesus responded with a parable about a man who gets beaten and left by the roadside. Two travelers—a priest and a Levite—do not have the time or the inclination to help the beaten man, so they pass by. But a Samaritan, whom most Jewish people would avoid (John 4:9), stops to help without questions or conditions.

The legal expert got the point. And Jesus pressed the point home: “Go and do likewise.” Would the man’s faith now move him to be a good ­neighbor?

Who are our neighbors? Are there limits on our love? “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). How can we be good neighbors in Jesus’ name?

What do you want us to do in your name today, Lord? You have provided all we need. How can we thank you? Keep us from holding back our love. In your name, Amen.

About the author — Norman F. Brown

Chaplain Norman F. Brown graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1969. He served aboard destroyers during the Vietnam conflict and ashore in San Diego, Calif., as an instructor. By then God had made clear his call to work in pastoral ministry, and Norman entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1980. Chaplain Brown pastored churches during his ministry career but spent most of his time as a navy chaplain. During one assignment he served three years at Holy Loch, Scotland, where he and his wife, Ruth, encountered the Iona Community and their emphasis on spiritual disciplines. Chaplain and Mrs. Brown have three married children and nine grandchildren.

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