He wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
It can be difficult to show compassion to someone you might despise. It can also be difficult to receive help from such a person. That’s because you would think of that person as an enemy. This parable is about showing God’s love and compassion without strings attached, even for an enemy.
The question could be asked, “How could a holy God offer love to any of us, who are basically his enemies because of all the sins we do against him?” The answer is grace (unearned favor)! (See Romans 5:6-11.)
In Jesus’ parable, a priest and a Levite pass by and notice the man who has been robbed and beaten, but they keep going without offering any help. Then along comes a Samaritan. (In those days the Jews and Samaritans despised each other.) This man stops and takes action in practical ways. He doesn’t just throw money at the problem; he also gives his time and resources to see that the beaten man is restored to health again.
Many people tend to measure their love for God by their commitment to church attendance, Bible study, giving money for ministry, or volunteering at church. Yet loving our neighbor demands more. To love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength goes hand in hand with loving our neighbor as ourselves. We are commanded to do both—regardless of who they are, what they have done, or where they come from.
Lord Jesus, give us eyes to see the people around us and to care for their needs, even if it may be inconvenient or difficult. Give us the desire to share your love. Amen.
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