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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

BEING A GOOD NEIGHBOR

Zechariah 8:16-17 These are the things that ye shall do; speak every man the truth to his neighbor; execute the judgement of truth and peace in your gates: and let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbor; and love no false oath: for all these are the things that I hate, saith the Lord.

Who is my neighbor? We generally think of our neighbors as the people next door, or those that live in close proximity to us in our community. Where you live, you may have a neighborhood watch. Your neighbors in this instance would be those that live in your particular subdivision or area.

This same question was asked of Jesus. A lawyer asked Jesus, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? To which Jesus replied, What is written in the law? How readest thou (Luke 10:25-26)? Being a lawyer, this was an appropriate question. The lawyer, referred to in these verses, was known as a Jewishscribe -onethat copied, taught, and interpreted the Jewish law. Therefore, Jesus question in return was in order. The lawyer answered, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. Jesus said to the lawyer, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. Immediately the lawyer asked, And who is my neighbor (Luke 10:27-29)? Jesus answered by relating the parable of the Good Samaritan who, as he traveled on the road to Jericho, tended to the needs of man that had been robbed, seriously wounded, and left half dead by a band of thieves. He appliedmedication,boundthe man's wounds, tookhim to an inn for care, and paidfor the services that were to be administered to him at the inn. This same wounded man had previously been noticed but ignored by a Jewish priest and a Levite that passed by. After relating this story, Jesus asked the lawyer, Which of the three was the man's neighbor? The lawyer replied, He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise (See Luke 10:30-37).

Who, then, is your neighbor? Jesus says your neighbor is more than those living next door to you; more than those in your subdivision; more than those in your town or city; even more than the people that inhabit your country. Your neighbor is your universal fellow man. This includes any man, woman or child of any race, color or creed. It includes all mankind. From the answer Jesus gave the lawyer, we learn that there are two great commandments. Matthew's companion rendering assures us that we are to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and love our neighbor as ourselves, with the final verse telling us that on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (See Matt. 22:37-40).

These are the main links in God's chain of laws for all mankind, with all other commands stemming from these two commandments. If we think we are obedient to all of God's laws and fail to love God, or fail to love our fellow man, then our obedience is in vain. For obedient children to be acceptable to God, they must both love God and love their fellow man. Stated in this manner, there are no exceptions to this rule.

These few verses of the lesson text tell us just a few of our responsibilities to our neighbors. We are to be truthful to our neighbors, treat them justly, and live peacefully with them. We are not to harbor evil thoughts against our neighbors or make false promises to them. If we love them as ourselves, we will treat them as we would treat ourselves; we would do good deeds for our neighbor and avoid any act that would be considered evil. Romans 13:9-10 says, ...thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

Do you love God? Do you love your neighbor? Do you love both God and your neighbor? Jesus said these are the great commandments. Your salvation depends on your obedience to these two great commandments. Prove to God that you love Him by demonstrating your love for your fellow man. Your neighbor has both spiritual as well as physical needs, as does your neighbor living in another state or in foreign lands. You have a responsibility to all neighbors, wherever they may live, whatever their race, color, or creed. You have the great, lovingy, and godly responsibility - that of Being a Good Neighbor.