’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)
In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the lawyer asks Jesus a question we all wrestle with:
Who is my neighbor?
After all, it is part of the call given to us in the second greatest commandment to “Love thy neighbor.”
The problem lies not in the question, but in our reason for asking. Similar to the lawyer, we seek to minimize God’s standards for our lives in order to make it more manageable. We create boundaries and loopholes, and we are endless in our excuse making.
Jesus sees past our laziness and the ways we try to limit Him in our lives. Notice how Jesus never directly answers the man’s question of who, but instead He answers the question of how.
In fact, in the end, Jesus refers to a neighbor as the Samaritan who shows the man in the ditch mercy. The answer had nothing to do with demographic or geography, but was based on need and action.
Every day we each have our own set of encounters with people in a ditch. Who has God placed on your path? Who needs your help?
Stop trying to limit whom God has called you to love.
The Samaritan in this story took huge cultural, financial and physical risks to meet the needs of the man on his path. He didn’t stop to weigh the personal cost to himself, but did all he could to extend love to a total stranger.
He didn’t limit God by limiting the resources he gave, he didn’t limit God by limiting the amount of time he had, and he certainly didn’t limit God by limiting who he was willing to help.
It is no coincidence that this is the example of mercy that Jesus gave. It doesn’t end there, as he turns to each of us, in the midst of our crazy schedules and busy days, and says “Go and do likewise.”
Lord, hold us to the standard you have created for us. Help us to see past the differences we see in others. Open our eyes and ears to the people you have placed in our paths. May we not limit all that you have given us but instead, spend ourselves on behalf of our neighbors. Thank you for being the first example of a true neighbor. Teach us to be people of boundless love and endless mercy. Amen.