Who Is My Neighbor?


A neighbor as a noun is "a person living next door to or very near to the speaker or person referred to" and as a verb is "(of a place or object) be situated next to or very near (another)" - (Google Search, Sept 2017). But is this Scripture's definition of who a neighbor is? Who does God want us to see as my/your neighbor? In Luke 10:25-37, Jesus gives the parable of the Good Samaritan, succinctly teaching us who our neighbor is.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

Luke 10:30-34 points out really important things we need to note and have in mind daily. A Jewish lawyer had asked Jesus who a neighbor is, to which Jesus replies. 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.”

After this show of selfless love for a complete stranger, Jesus asks the lawyer in verses 36-37, 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.” Here we see our Scriptural definition of who a neighbor is - anyone you show compassion and mercy on is your neighbor. It was a 'certain man' who became a neighbor, meaning anyone we come across in our daily life. We must show godly love to everyone we come across. In addition, a 'certain Samaritan' is the one who 'had compassion' and tended to this man's needs. So it doesn't matter what your status in life is, we're all called to love our neighbor.

Prior to this, in Luke 10:27-28, this same lawyer intended to test Jesus on the issue of inheriting eternal life. He thereafter gave an answer to Jesus' question about what he understood from Scripture's teachings on how to inherit eternal life. 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.’” And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” So Jesus not only agreed that loving your neighbor is a character of those who inherit eternal life, but also agreed it is as weighty as loving God. Jesus then went on to teach who a neighbor is, using the Parable of the Good Samaritan which we already discussed above.

Who Is My Neighbor?

Jesus' definition of a neighbor - lessons for us

The Lord Jesus talks about a Priest and a Levite on the one hand, both greatly revered men amongst the Jews; and also of a Samaritan on the other hand, from Samaria - people the Jews regarded with disdain. He compares their attitude to a wounded, likely Jewish, man.

The Priest and the Levite did not consider the wounded man on the road, but went on their way. While the Samaritan went to him and cared for him as he could. Bear in mind that the wounded man was most likely a Jew, who were known to regard anyone from Samaria with disdain. Yet, this Samaritan was the one that truly cared.

Through the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus tells us a message that our neighbor is the one who is in need – the broken, the wounded, and the worried around us. If we don’t consider those around us, we, in fact, are not loving them as God wants us to do. Matthew 22:36-40 (NKJV) puts it thus: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” This summarises it all: your LOVE of those hurting around you - family or non-family - is as weighty as your LOVE of God. You cannot separate one from the other. You show your love of God through your show of selfless love, mercy, and compassion on those who are hurting around you - the hungry, the naked, the widows, the orphans and all other sorrowful or hopeless around you who you have ability to reach out to and show some care for. You do NOT need to know them to be a neighbor. Neither do they need to live next door to you. Anybody in need anywhere around you, at home or at work or on transit or anywhere else you may be, is your neighbor.

The one who had mercy on the needy is the real neighbor.

God doesn’t want people to remain in problems; so He sends somebody to rescue them. His compassion is shown through people. His compassion is shown in YOU. And ME!

God wants to see those who act on seeing a need. Those who are willing to be good neighbors, they will find opportunities where they can help others. They are not forced to help someone, but willingly come forward to do it anyway.

When Jesus was here on earth, He did what He taught. In practical terms, time and again, He taught us through His actions how to be neighborly to people. He was willing to help those who came to Him and asked His help. He never ignored or rejected those who were wounded, hurting and broken. All the miracles that happened through Jesus are the results of His compassion. He did every miracle out of His love for the hurting. And the news spread through their testimonies.

God is searching for those who like to be good neighbors to those in need.

Are you a good neighbor? Yes, God wants you to be one!

Related: Jesus' Model on How to Deal With Difficult People