Who is My Neighbor?

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Do you ever find that some people are hard to like… harder still to love? While there are times when it may be enough to simply avoid conflict with these folks, there are other times when God calls us to do something more.

In Jesus’ day, there was a religious expert of the law who questioned Him about inheriting eternal life. As they conversed, the topic focused on the importance of loving God wholeheartedly and loving our neighbors as we love ourselves. The latter gave rise to a follow-up question: “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 11:29b, NIV)

The Scripture tells us that the religious expert asked this question in order to “justify himself” (Luke 11:29a). If there was a loophole, he wanted to find it. If there was an exception to the rule, he wanted to know about it.

A few thousand years later we continue to ask that age-old question: Who is my neighbor? Is it the annoying driver who cuts me off during rush hour traffic? Is it the elderly lady who lives just down the street? Is it the impoverished child who lives far away?

Yes, yes, and yes!  It is this and so much more. Our neighbors are the people we do know, and the people we don’t know. They are the ones we care about, and the ones we barely tolerate. It’s the folks who live next door and the ones who live halfway across the globe.

Final Thoughts  

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, love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27, NIV). That’s a tall order and an impossible task to undertake in our own strength. Could it be that we are better equipped to succeed in loving our neighbors when we have learned to love God with all that we have and all that we are?

Loving God begins with knowing God – staying in His Word, spending time in His sweet presence, being transformed by His amazing grace. As our hearts come into alignment with His, there may still be those who are hard for us to love. However, we will be equipped with a new level of compassion minister to those in need of understanding and mercy. Walking in grace and forgiveness may still be a challenge, but with the Spirit’s empowerment, it is possible. Walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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