Wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
To survive in a hostile world, we need to help others, not just focus on ourselves. Jesus was certainly the supreme example of selflessness. Before Bethlehem, He existed in heaven as the Son of God, seated at the right hand of God the Father. One day, Revelation 5 tells us, we are all going to kneel before Him and sing, “Worthy is the Lamb.” Yet for that brief slice of time that Jesus was here on earth, He came to serve us. In 2 Corinthians 8:9, Paul said, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.”
What does it mean for us to selflessly help other people? One of the best illustrations of that principle is the parable of the good Samaritan in Luke 10. A lawyer decided to put Jesus to the test, so he said, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (v. 25). Jesus replied, in essence, “What does the law say?” And the lawyer said, “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself” (v. 27). Jesus told him, “You got it right. Do that and you will live.”
Now, the religious leaders of the day had redefined the word “neighbor” to mean “somebody who is just like me, who is easy to like.” They wanted to narrow the definition to such a small group of people that it would be easy to love your neighbor as yourself. So the lawyer asked, “Exactly what do you mean by ‘neighbor,’ Jesus?” And Jesus told the famous story: A man was walking from Jerusalem to Jericho, and along the way he was mugged by a group of bandits and left for dead. A priest and a Levite walked by this bleeding man in the street and did nothing. But a Samaritan, whose people despised the Jews, stopped and rendered aid. The point was obvious: Our neighbor is anybody we encounter who has a need we are capable of meeting–and helping others means being willing to meet their needs, even if it is inconvenient.
In this highly politicized world, it is easy to view everything through the prism of politics and national policy. But let me be very clear about something: when Jesus told this story, He was not talking about national policy and what other people ought to be doing. This is a very personal story about what we ought to be doing as individuals. If you are a husband, helping others may mean putting your wife’s need for conversation above your need to unwind after work. If you are a wife, helping others may mean putting your husband’s need to be admired and respected above your need to correct him all the time. If you are a parent, helping others may mean putting your child’s need for affection above your need to check your email or social media. That is what it means to help others: to meet the needs of those around us, even when it is inconvenient.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Survival Tip #9: Help Others” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.