For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Galatians 5:14)
Who is your neighbour?
As trivial as the question may sound it is not that straightforward to know your neighbour. A certain lawyer asked Jesus the same question. Jesus, in answering the question He told a parable commonly known as the parable of the Good Samaritan.
The parable of the Good Samaritan
And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise. (Luke 10:30-37)
From the above quoted parable of the Good Samaritan, we see that this neighbour was not a common neighbour that we know of. Although all neighbours ought to be loved, the commandment to love our neighbours needs extra thought if we are to execute according to the will of God.
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary has six definitions for the word neighbour.
1. One who lives near another. In large towns, a neighbor is one who lives within a few doors. In the country, a neighbor may live at a greater distance; and in new settlements, where the people are thinly scattered over the country, a neighbor may be distant several miles. Such is the use of the word in the United States.
2. One who lives in familiarity with another; a word of civility.
3. An intimate; a confidant.
4. A fellow being. Acts 7.
5. One of the human race; any one that needs our help, or to whom we have an opportunity of doing good.
6. A country that is near.
Out of the six (6) meanings for the word neighbour, which one do you think applies to the passage of the Good Samaritan? Certainly, it is meaning number five (5). Any one that needs our help, or to whom we have an opportunity of doing good is the neighbour the bible commandment refers us to.
What place does meaning number one (1) take then? The word of God says, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”(Romans 12:18). Peace is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:18), and is a product of love. You cannot live peacefully with people you do not love. Hence, we ought to love everyone. However, in the context of the commandment to love our neighbours, we shall attempt to classify this neighbour more clearly.
How to identify your neighbour
We may live in the same neighbourhood but have different neighbours. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, all the three characters in the parable saw the man in need. The Priest saw him, the Levite looked on him, and the Good Samaritan saw him. The neighbour is the one you see in need. You see, although we all have two eyes and may seem to look at the same thing, the details of what we see are always different. Most of the times when I walk into a new Church building, I notice how beautifully or how carelessly kept the church is. Not everyone notices that. Hence, the people who do not see what I see will not be held responsible for taking no act. However, I will be held responsible, because I saw it. Hence, the neighbour is the one you see in need. If you do not take any action, the law to love your neighbour will judge you. Apostle John wrote, “But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? “(1 John 3:17). You see John says the same thing. Seeing is the first key to identify your neighbour.
The second key to identify your neighbour is need. Who needs your help? A neighbour is anyone rich or poor who you are able to render assistance of any kind. For instance, Benny Hinn is not poor. However, he needs your financial support to reach millions of lost souls. Therefore, Benny Hinn is a neighbour in need in that regard. Hence, if you see a neighbour having a need that you are able to meet but you take no action, then the law to love your neighbour will judge you.
Next time you notice a neighbour in need do not ask yourself why the other neighbour having more resources did not help first. He may have not noticed it. The Holy Spirit in us causes us to see what others do not see. (For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (Romans 8:14))Hence, what you see is your responsibility. When you take action, you shall surely be blessed.