LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOR
Loving your neighbor is a universally accepted commandment among Christians. No one would deny that Jesus
made it an obligation for each of us.
According to Jesus it is the second greatest commandment. The only obligation that is greater is the obligation
to love God with our total being. When the scribe included this commandment in his answer, Jesus commended
James labels it as the royal commandment. This probably means that it is king over all of the other obligations of
life. Nothing is more practical than understanding that the obligation to love your neighbor is ruler over all other
obligations that relate to your fellowman. Take care of this commandment, and you will have no problem with the
hundreds of others that relate to our fellowman, our neighbor.
Obedience to it will both restrain and constrain. It will restrain you from doing harm to your neighbor. Paul
describes it as the fulfilling of the second table of the law, the negative commands that guide us in relating to our
neighbor. But obedience will also compel us to do good to our neighbor. This is the lesson that Jesus taught in
the famous story about the Good Samaritan. The Samaritan demonstrated that love for neighbor takes action. It
does good. It meets the need.
There are lessons for us in this passage on this FAITH Sunday. Before you make up your mind as to whether
you will participate in FAITH or not, think with me about the implications of this royal commandment for this
practical issue. Could FAITH really be a love issue?
I. LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOR ENCOURAGES SHARING THE GOSPEL.
The memorable story of the Good Samaritan makes clear the nature of love for neighbor. Love for neighbor is
active. When it sees a person in need, it does what it can to meet the need.
In the story the poor traveler has been robbed, beaten, and left for dead. He is helpless and in need of
someone coming to his rescue. The two religionist who precede the Samaritan on the road to Jericho did the
poor man no harm, and they wished him well, but they did nothing to help. They may have even breathed a
prayer for a quick recovery from the beating, but they did nothing. Nothing! By the definition of Jesus they were
guilty of breaking the royal commandment. To ignore the man in his need was an unloving response.
In contrast to them, the Samaritan did what he could. He took the oil and cloth that he had and bound up the
wounds of the victim. He put him on his donkey and delivered him to the inn. He paid for the man’s keep in the
inn, and then made a promise to do whatever else might need to be done. This is what true love for neighbor
looks like. How does this apply to our situation?
1. Because of the spiritual need of man.
The need of many of our neighbors, literally thousands of them, is much more desperate than that of the poor
traveler in the parable. His needs related to the body primarily. We are much more likely to have a neighbor with
problem of the soul, a separation from
God that exposes them to eternal condemnation. Unless they receive help, they are certain to perish eternally.
They are totally unable to remedy their problem without help from the Lord. We are slow to accept the biblical
analysis of the condition of our neighbor. We have bought into the cultural perspective that denies that man
apart from Christ is eternally lost.
It is true that we may not know their name, but by the definition that Jesus gives, they are still our neighbors.
They are someone in our sphere of influence who has a need. They may not share our cultural background, but
they are in need. They are living out their earthly existence under the wrath of God.
2. Because we have a healing treasure to share with them.
What makes the situation more urgent is that we have what they need. Just as the hero in the parable had the
oil, wine, and cloth needed to bind up the wounds of the poor victim lying in the ditch, God has granted to us the
privilege of bearing with us what the world needs. The Sovereign Lord of salvation has entrusted to us the
Gospel of His dear Son. This gospel is the power of God unto salvation unto all who believe. It is the treasure
that God has placed in earthen vessels, clay pots. To love your neighbor as you love yourself is to share with
him or her this wonderful treasure of the Gospel.
Do you realize just how precious this Gospel is? Do you realize just how good the news of the Gospel is? God
entrusted it to you so that you may share it with others who have a need.
This speaks to a problem that we have. Many of us know that God has entrusted to us this wonderful treasure,
but we feel totally incapable of sharing it with others. This is the purpose of the FAITH process—it is a wonderful
strategy for becoming equipped with the skills that enable you to share the Gospel confidently.
3. Because it is expressing the love of God for your neighbor.
God does love our neighbors—even those who are living without awareness of Him and His love. Their lives
may be abominable before God, yet He loves them. They may actually be enemies, yet He loves them. But how
do they discover this reality of His love? The primary means of communicating His love is by the sharing of His
Gospel on the part of His people.
II. LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOR COSTS.
1. It will cost time.
This may have kept the priest and Levi from getting involved. The priest was probably returning to his home
from some stressful days of service in the temple. Surely his temple service was enough to satisfy the demands
of God. They were busy men. The Samaritan saw the poor victim as being deserving of the investment of some
of his time. Love acts like this. The hero was prepared to invest whatever time was required to meet the needs
of the robbed and beaten man.
Now we are addressing a problem that many of you face. Your schedule is so full and demanding that it is
impossible to become a part of rescue operation like FAITH. You think that you just do not have that much time
to give. But dear friend, unless someone cares enough to invest some time in getting the gospel to the unsaved
of this growing metropolitan area, what hope do those lying in the ditch have?
2. It will cost money.
I am not sure what olive oil cost in that day, but it cost something. The hero took another step, and invested two
coins in the welfare of the victim. Not a major outlay of funds, but enough to meet the needs of the man.
FAITH will cost some money. It takes gasoline to get your car to the church. There will also be some resources
to purchase. And who knows, you may encounter physical and financial needs in the lives of those you visit that
will require an investment on your part. There is no way you can love your neighbor without it costing you some
3. It will cost energy.
The Samaritan walked to the inn while the victim rode his donkey. Everything he did involved an investment of
himself. So it is in this FAITH process. You come to the church, sit through an hour class, spend an hour and a
half in visitation, share in a celebration time after the visits, and you have made an energy investment. It is the
way of love.
Love always pays a price. It does not hold back resources.
III. LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOR PAYS.
1. In a life saved.
The blessings that came through the action of the hero are multiple. From the perspective of the half-dead
victim, the action of the hero meant life. The story leaves us with the distinct impression that apart from an effort
by the Samaritan, the victim is lost. He will surely die. From this day forward the man will have reason to be
grateful for the compassionate action of the Samaritan.
Is not the greatest blessing to be realized through FAITH just this? As I sat in worship at FBC, Lubbock, last Lord’
s Day, I observed Alex and Debbie sitting close to the front. Our first contact with this couple was through FAITH.
This couple had met via the internet. She was from England and he from Lubbock, Texas. She left her family,
including her child, to come to this country and live with Alex. Through the visit, and the continuing ministry of a
FAITH team, both of them came to know Christ. They were married, with the help of their Sunday School class.
She has since served as a member of a FAITH team. A team did a loving thing—made a visit, shared the
treasure of Gospel, and two lives were saved. A home was established.
This type of story can be multiplied. It is the kind of thing that happens when people love their neighbors enough
to take the treasure of the Gospel to them.
2. In heavenly reward received.
There is nothing in the story about this. But does it not follow that the Lord who took note of such a generous
compassionate action on the part of the Samaritan will not overlook our loving our neighbors?
3. In joy experienced.
Which of the personalities in this story do you think went home with the greater joy at the end of the day? The
priest? Or the Levi? Or the Samaritan? I will cast my lot with the Samaritan. There is always something good that
happens in the heart of the person who loves his neighbor.