Like a Good Neighbor

Sermon – PastorBryon October 21, 2018

Introduction

A young woman was brutally attacked as she returned to her apartment late one night. She screamed and shrieked as she fought for her life, yelling until she was hoarse—for thirty minutes—as she was beaten and abused. Thirty-eight people watched the half-hour episode in rapt fascination from their windows. Not one so much as walked over to the telephone and called the police. She died that night as thirty-eight witnesses stared in silence. Another’s experience was similar.

Riding on a subway, a seventeen-year-old youth was quietly minding his own business when he was stabbed repeatedly in the stomach by attackers. Eleven riders watched the stabbing, but none came to assist the young man. Even after the thugs had fled and the train had pulled out of the station and he lay there in a pool of his own blood, not one of the eleven came to his side.

Less dramatic, but equally shocking, was the ordeal of a lady in New York City. While shopping on Fifth Avenue in busy Manhattan, this lady tripped and broke her leg. Dazed, anguished, and in shock, she called out for help. Not for two minutes. Not for twenty minutes. But for forty minutes, as shoppers and business executives, students and merchants walked around her and stepped over her, completely ignoring her cries. After literally hundreds had passed by, a cab driver finally pulled over, hauled her into his taxi, and took her to a local hospital.

Stories like these sound horrifying don’t they? However, how many times have you noticed someone in need and walked or drove right past them? Now I’m not advocating for giving money to people holding signs on the street. In fact I believe this to be counterproductive to helping people. Helping those in need means giving of yourself. Mother Teresa said, “Love is not patronizing and charity isn’t about pity, it is about love. Charity and love are the same — with charity you give love, so don’t just give money but reach out your hand instead.”

One of the biggest overshadowing components of the Bible is love. Scripture that speak about love can be clustered in three areas: God’s love for us, our love for God, and His love in us for others. It is this third area we’ll be examining.

Scripture – Luke 10:25-37
25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?27 So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ ” 28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” 29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’
36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” 37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Text Examined

This scripture teaches us that God expects us to love our neighbor as ourself and his definition of neighbor is what we need to pay special attention to.

The lawyer in our text had made his neighbors to mean those he had qualified as worthy of his love and admiration; at the very least, those who were part of his own heritage. cBut if this text says anything then it says that those neighbors we are to love cannot be limited in scope and intensity.

What happens when we love with limits and qualifications?

  1. We try to test Jesus instead of learn from Him (v. 25).
  2. We develop a legalistic view of salvation (v. 25).
  3. We ask questions we already know the answer to (v. 26-27).
  4. We have trouble making our walk the same as our talk (v. 28).
  5. We attempt to justify ourselves (v. 29).

What happens when we love without limits?


1. We’ll love even those who have been careless (v. 30).

The man had traveled the “Bloody Way.” Perhaps it was night, and perhaps he had been alone. If either of those things are true, then he made some poor choices.

Do we have to help people who have only themselves to blame for their difficulty? Haven’t you ever wanted to say to someone, “Well, you made your own mess; now just sit in it.”

2. We’ll love those others find hard to love (love the unloved) (vv. 31-32).

The man was viewed by two religious men, and they chose to pass by on the other side. Keep in mind that the priest and Levite were not evil men. They were leaders of the Jewish community that others should want to imitate.

Do we have to love those who have failed to receive help from Christian leadership?

3. We’ll love our enemies (v. 33).

The man was a Samaritan. For the only Gentile to write a life of Christ that was a significant detail. The Samaritans had refused Jesus lodging in the last chapter. Why would Jesus paint those people as the good guys?

Do we really have to love our enemies into being our friends? Why can’t we only greet those who greet us?

4. We’ll love even in difficult situations (v. 34a).

The man didn’t look very good. He had been in a struggle and was left for dead. The Samaritan acts medicinally and compassionately.

Do we have to love those who might turn our stomachs? Surely there must be a limit somewhere. Trained professionals might be able to do this, but “I don’t have the stomach for it.”

5. We’ll love even when those we love cost time and money (vv. 34b-35).

The man interrupted the Samaritan’s schedule. I doubt seriously if the Samaritan’s day-timer read, “Help bloody people today.” The Samaritan changed his entire agenda and sacrificed some big bucks to help.

Do we have to put our money where our mouth is when it comes to real loving?

Conclusion

For the Samaritan to be portrayed as the hero shows Luke’s emphasis on the heart of God to include all people! And, the parable won’t set you free! It puts you under obligation: “Go and do likewise.”

Most of you know I spent six years working at the Roanoke Rescue Mission. I share those stories of my time there not to brag on me but to brag on God. I’ve never been in a place that I witness God’s presence to the extent that I did at the Mission. In fact, my time at the Rescue Mission changed who I am as a Christian and helped me have a greater understanding of God and his love for us.

I wish each and every one of you could experience this for yourself. Over the next two months the world is going to get more generous. People who never think about helping others will be kinder and more giving. Local missions such as The Salvation Army, The Roanoke Rescue Mission and the RAM House know their donations will be increasing as will their volunteer base. I want to challenge each and every one of you over the next 60 days to volunteer at least one day at one of these ministries. I will be arranging for our church to go to the Rescue Mission and I would love to see as many as possible volunteer to go serve. I’ll tell you know it’s going to be outside of your comfort level and you’ll have your defenses up when you first go but I am certain it will be an amazing experience for each of you.

Go and do likewise!
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