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I Have to Love THEM?

Posted on September 28, 2021

In Matthew 22, Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was. He responded that the greatest commandment was to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind (the gospel of Mark adds strength too). But then He says, “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (v. 39). In Luke 10, after explaining this same thing, the rich young ruler asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?” 


This caused Jesus to launch into the parable of the Good Samaritan. I’m sure you’ve heard it before. A man was on a trip to Jericho when thieves suddenly appeared, beat him up, and stole his money and donkey, leaving him half-dead. Along came a priest, but when he saw the man, he pronounced him unclean and walked around to the other side. Then a Levite came along, and when he saw him, thought, “What a poor man,” and then kept going. You would think that more than anyone, these two men would be willing to help the injured man. 


But then came along a Samaritan. You have to remember that Samaritans were despised by the Jews (because they were a half-breed of Jew and Gentile). You would think, then, that more than anyone, this man wouldn’t want to help the injured Jew. “This man probably despises me, so why should I help him?” But that thought didn’t cross his mind. Instead he immediately put him on his donkey and took him to a lodge where the man could rest and be cared for. The Samaritan then paid his bill and even told the owners that he would come back to repay further expenses. 


Jesus ends the story by saying, “Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise” (Luke 10:36-37). The message is clear. Your “neighbor” would include anyone, whether you like them or not. We tend to be very biased, don’t we? We have certain people that we really like, and others that we really don’t like. We won’t admit that, but you know it’s true. 


We might be Christians, but many times we are just like the priest and the Levite. We don’t want to love the person holding a sign on the street corner, or that odd-looking man in the grocery store. We just want to walk right on by without helping them. When Jesus says to love your neighbor, He means to love even the most unlovable person, the person you want to ignore or get away from. Because this doesn’t come naturally for us, it takes real Christlike love to help or even talk to those unlovable folks. 


Just think about it: everyone ignores them. What do you think it would do for them if you would just take a minute to talk to them? It would mean the world to them. Show them the love of Christ. And maybe even try to help them. This is what Jesus meant when He spoke of loving your neighbor as yourself. How much do you love yourself? Probably A LOT. Then we need to love others a lot. Be a Good Samaritan. Look for ways to bless others. Instead of saying, “I have to love them?” say, “I want to love them.” 


In I John 3:17, the Apostle John bluntly told us, “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” In other words, your love for others shows your love for God. That’s convicting! Now understand, I’m not advocating a liberal gospel where we have to feed the hungry and house the poor, but I AM saying that we should be willing to show some love toward our “neighbors,” those in need. Just give it a try this week, and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. 

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