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 (214)

214 thoughts on "Making Room for Your Neighbor"

  1. Stacie Murphy says:

    I’m so bad at loving my neighbor, I love who I want to love not remembering (on purpose) that Jesus loves everyone. God help me to love every single one of my neighbors.

  2. Monique Cabrera says:

    So what do you do when you are told you love too many, too much? Well… I. Turn. To. GOD! I have been told by those i LOVE dearly that I love too much, that I love too many. I understand I cant save “them” all, (my children’s friends, the souls I see on the streets, the

  3. Leah Atkins says:

    “The life I now live and the love I give are by His power and for His glory.” (Gal. 2:19-20) Amen.

  4. Lacey ReneeDalton says:

    How do you love like this and keep boundaries? How do you love like this and not enable? How do you love like this when you are wronged and not go back for more?

  5. Katie Chetta says:

    Love is definitely hard to give sometimes. There is the physically injured man at the side of the road that is easy to help, and there are homeless that are addicted to various substances- and giving them money or goods (just to make yourself feel better) does not necessarily help them. We really ought to think about solutions built in love that would really help most of the people we see in modern society. What is interesting about this passage is that the Good Samaritan didn’t give him a bandaid and move on, he physically dragged him out of the ditch to help him. Maybe we need to think something to that effect.

  6. Maria Wilhelm says:

    As I sit and read this while I wait for an appointment in D.C. I found my self filled with almost a sense of dread. I know that my drive home will be filled with stop lights with people asking for money or help of some sort. I start thinking about my budget, what do I have on me in cash, what can I afford to give away, so on. This is often hard for me, I grew up rather poor so I have a deep fear of not having enough.
    We can not adequately love and be generous to each person we come across but i pray that if can be faithful and obey even a little the lord can do more with that then i ever could alone. A small interaction can help set a spark for the holy sprit to be felt by someone who desperately needs it.

  7. Erin Perkins says:

    My biggest sin area, especially since becoming a mom, is hoarding comfort. I just don’t want to be uncomfortable anymore. I need to lay that down. And I often do. Just struggle with it.

    1. Abby Burkholder says:

      Thanks for sharing this. It really resonated with me. I didn’t really know exactly how to express this sin area in my life, but I think you nailed it! It’s something I need to lay down and really pray about, too.

  8. Esther Kumar says:

    Loving others just like I love myself is a battle that needs to be won each day and in each interaction. I find it so hard to love especially when things don’t go the way I want it to go. Thankful for such reminders that keep pointing us and reminding us!

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