Am I Being Neighborly? 

Am I Being Neighborly? 

By: Zach Collins

The story is told about a preacher who preached a sermon on helping those in need. In his sermon, he used the parable of the Good Samaritan and encouraged the members, in his application, to become actively involved by giving to the poor. There was a little boy sitting in the pew, with his grandfather, listening to the sermon patiently. At the conclusion of the sermon, the collection basket began to be passed from pew to pew, and the little boy’s grandfather gave him a crisp $1 bill to put into the basket. However, instead of putting money in the basket, the little boy put the crisp $1 bill in his pocket. The worship service came and went, and as the preacher was shaking hands, the grandfather and little boy left the auditorium and came to the preacher. The little boy reached up and gave the preacher his crisp $1 bill with mischievous fingers! The preacher said, “Son, what is this for?” The little boy quipped, “You preached on giving to the poor and my daddy says you are the poorest preacher he knows.”  

Jesus was once asked the question, “Who is my neighbor?” To which, Jesus responded by telling one of the most familiar stories in the Bible, the Parable of the Good Samaritan. 

Do you remember this story? One day, a certain man was traveling upon the road of Jericho from Jerusalem, a very dangerous road, when he fell among thieves. They beat him, took all this man’s possessions, and left him to die! He was disparaged and hopeless. 

Thankfully, there came a priest! If anyone would help this man, it would be a Priest, right? Yet, with despair, he watched God’s messenger of hope pass to the other side and overlook his hopelessness. 

But, as God’s providence would have it, next came a Levite! He was trained in the Law. He was well acquainted with God’s revelation of how we should treat our neighbors! Yet, with great sadness, the man in need watched as the Levite passed to the other side, as well. 

Then came a Samaritan. Oh no! He was not well acquainted with the Law. They didn’t believe in the prophets after Moses! As this man beheld the Samaritan walking his way, perhaps he felt more hopeless than ever before. However, unlike the other two who passed to the other side, the Samaritan stopped. He did not ask questions. He did not care about the man’s appearance. The “Good Samaritan” bandaged his wounds, restored him to health, and put him in an inn. 

In truth, this story began with the wrong question. A lawyer asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” This was the wrong question because this question narrowed the focus of our compassion. Jesus ends this story with the right question, “Am I being neighborly?” In so doing, He issues a grand challenge, “Go and do likewise” (v. 37). The Priest and the Levite showed themselves to be unfriendly, whereas the Samaritan showed himself to be neighborly. 

In this story, a profound truth rises to the surface of a story filled with conflict, mistrust, and hate. I am the man on the road. I am helpless. I am weak. I am worn. I have been robbed of my dignity by sin. I live with the regret of traveling a dangerous road. Sin has changed my countenance, and, to many, I appear unapproachable. Yet, Jesus stopped. He did not dwell on my past, He looked to my future. He was not concerned about my appearance; He bandaged my wounds. He restored me to health by cleansing my greatest infirmity, sin. He took me away from the dangerous road I was traveling and put me in the only place of safety, His church. 

Jesus was my neighbor. Am I being neighborly? 

December 12th, 2023