25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”This is such a familiar passage that it is very easy to skim through it, and not spend the time on it that it deserves. I'd like to point out three things about this "good neighbor."
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘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.”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
First, the Samaritan saw someone in need and had compassion. He could easily have gone right on past, as the others did, but instead, he put his compassion into action -- showing mercy to the victim of the robbers.
Next, the Samaritan temporarily put his own desires on hold -- he was in the middle of his own journey. I'm sure someone was expecting his arrival; he delayed it. He gave freely of his time and his money to assist the wounded man.
Lastly, the Samaritan left quietly when he had helped the man. He didn't make a show, didn't expect fanfare or even a "attaboy" and a pat on the back. You see, we also need humility to be a good neighbor. By avoiding the sin of selfishness, we can focus on others and their needs. Paul tells us in Philippians 2: 3-4:
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.In order to be that good neighbor that we wish to be, we must take action. Solomon told us back in the third chapter of Proverbs, "Do not say to your neighbor, go and come back and tomorrow I will give it, when you have it with you." When we see the needs of others, we must act on those needs.
Perhaps the need is simply opening a door for a mom with her hands full of groceries and her toddler. Maybe the need is speaking encouraging words to someone who is depressed. It might be that the need is for comfort, and some of us who quilt can recall efforts to "wrap in quilted love" a person who was hurting. That fatherless son needs someone to take him fishing -- that widow needs some extras from your meal, to help her eat a balanced diet -- the list goes on. You see, if we start close to home, we can be the good neighbor our Father wants us to be; we don't have to stress about this Google-sized world, and all of the things we wish we could help with. Sure, if God lays it on your heart to help people across the hemisphere with your time and money, then go for it! But we must not let that vision blind us to the needs around us!