Who Is Your Neighbor?

The parable of the Good Samaritan provides a biblical clue.

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Posted in , Feb 11, 2016

How to be a Good Samaritan and a good neighbor to everyone in need.

Looking back, I always laugh when I recall one of my most embarrassing but funniest memories. When young men, my cousin and I traveled uptown in Manhattan to Radio City Music Hall to purchase tickets for a double date.

After buying the tickets, we realized we didn’t have enough money for our train ride home. We stood in the station, for what seemed like an eternity, asking strangers for help with our fare.

That day made me question what compels a person to assist a stranger? The Good Samaritan parable told by Jesus, provides biblical framework for being a good neighbor to others. In the story, Jesus is asked by an expert of law, “Who is my neighbor?”

As a response to this question, Jesus tells the story of a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho who was robbed, beaten and left for dead. Even when a priest crossed the street in an effort to avoid helping this man, a Samaritan saw his condition and felt the compassion to care for him.

He lifted the man onto his donkey and brought him to an inn nearby where he covered all expenses. When Jesus finished telling the story, he asked, “of these three, who was a neighbor to the man?” The expert in law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Then Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”

Over 40 years have passed since my cousin and I looked to others for our train fare home, yet the lesson we learned that day remains just as strong. A Good Samaritan is a compassionate individual who unselfishly helps others, especially strangers in need. 

Those who spared us some change that day acted as our neighbors. And as I move forward in life, I look back to that day when I see others in need as a reminder to be a good neighbor. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The time is always right to do what is right.”

Who is your neighbor? Has a stranger generously helped you in a time of need? If so, please share.

Lord, help me see my neighbor. Teach me to look at the need and not the person, to love and be compassionate as You are with us and have taught us to be. 

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