Day 2

Making Room for Your Neighbor

Luke 10:25-37, Mark 12:28-34, Romans 13:8-10, Galatians 6:2

BY Kaitie Stoddard

I’m embarrassed to admit how often I don’t love my neighbor.

One of my neighbors is a man who regularly stands on a corner near my house. Pangs of guilt shoot through my heart every time I shift my eyes away from him as I pass by. I have a long list of excuses for my inaction, of course—mind tricks and rationalizations to push away the guilt. It might not be safe to interact… I might enable an addiction… I can’t make a difference anyway. But is ignoring his very existence the way of the gospel?

When asked point-blank to identify the most important commandment, Jesus responded:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind,
and with all your strength. The second is, Love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other command greater than these” (Mark 12:30–31).

Notice how Jesus snuck two commandments into His answer? With this twofold response, Jesus showed just how interrelated and inseparable these two commandments really are. To truly love God, we must also love people.

On our best days, we want to obey Jesus’s command. But if we’re honest, some people are easier to love than others. Maybe they require less sacrifice, they love us back, or they just caught us in a good mood. Whatever our reasons, Jesus challenged this preference and inconsistency: “For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5:46). In other words, don’t expect a gold star for only loving when it’s easy.

When we feel guilty, we often want to justify our actions. When the Holy Spirit whispers to our conscience, we might argue away that sense of conviction by asking, Who really is my neighbor? In the book of Luke, we see a lawyer asking Jesus for clarification on the very same question (Luke 10:29). Jesus responded with the parable of the good Samaritan, a story that still offends our sensibilities, no matter how many times we hear it. Jesus told this parable to show His followers both who they should love and how they should love. The Good Samaritan and the man in the ditch had nothing in common, except for this one important detail: they were both journeying on the same road. For Jesus, that was enough of a reason to stop, to care, to be a neighbor. Anyone in our path—or on our path—is our neighbor, and we are called to love them.

How can we possibly love every person we meet? The truth is, in our own strength, we can’t—not perfectly. But the command remains. Scripture tells us that those who are in Christ are able to love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19–20). The life we live and the love we give are by His power and for His glory (Galatians 2:19–20).

The Son of God is the ultimate embodiment of the good Samaritan. Jesus left heaven to become one of us (Philippians 2:6–8), to seek us out and meet us in our deepest need, when we were still lying dead in the ditch of our sin (Ephesians 2:1). He left His throne room to rescue us, even to the point of death on a cross. Let us love our neighbors with this same otherworldly love, the love of Christ.

Post Comments (215)

215 thoughts on "Making Room for Your Neighbor"

  1. Beckie Dotson says:

    Boy, a definite reminder today to not just love when it is easy but it is to do it when is seems really difficult. I am currently having to love my boss who has been saying things about me and have to face her tomorrow.

  2. Emani Decquir says:

    I really struggle with loving my neighbor especially when they aren’t that great of a neighbor. Each day I tell myself to be patient with others because it’s my weakness. Anyone have any good tips for dealing with people who make it hard to love?

  3. Millie says:

    I had an extremely discouraging day at work today. I had a numerous events throughout my day that made me frustrated and upset. This scripture was so convicting for me. I think some “neighbors” I need to love and serve better are simply enough my coworkers.

    I need the Lord to work on my heart desperately in order for that to happen… I know I can’t do it alone. Thanks for this reminder and challenge to love the Lord with all my heart and in return love my neighbors.

    1. Jennie P says:

      Good point! I often think of my home neighbours when considering this parable, but how much more is it applicable to the people in the workstations around us. May God enable us to love these neighbours with joy and power.

  4. Widgeon says:

    Shelby, God doesn’t want you to put yourself in physical danger to prove your love. Just pray for your dad and meet whatever physical needs you can for him. God knows your heart and loves you so very much. Some relationships are better maintained from a distance. I will be praying for you and your dad.

  5. Natasha R says:

    Love all. Period. Hoo boy that’s hard. I know I can’t do this on my own. But I remind myself that I don’t have to be perfect, but God is, and his love is. I don’t have to cultivate this perfect love within me, I just have to be the shiny surface that reflects God’s love to others. Or, looking at it another way, I have to let the Holy Spirit fill me so God’s perfect love can shine through me.

  6. Kristen Marino says:

    God did it again! I will read or hear a teaching on one scripture or idea/ ideas, and then I hear a related one. This week’s sermon was in our first reading today from Luke. Please listen if you get a chance. You can skip to the teaching: Hit the part that says watch the Live Stream. It’s for 5/5.

  7. Shelby says:

    Today’s reading is beautiful and it also makes me question the relationship I have with my dad.

    My dad was abusive growing up, yet still I saw the goodness in him. Today, he has no relationship with me. He has made comments saying I’m not his daughter. This relationship is destructive.

    How can I determine what type of relationship to have with him. Just one where I love him (as the scripture says to LOVE) but don’t seek a physical one? I had tried many times and it has potential to be violent. When is it okay to walk away? Or do I?

    What is not considered sinning in this sense?

  8. Kalifa Boyce says:

    Love it. Great reminder of being aware of my neighbors

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