Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. (1 Corinthians 10:24 ESV)
The cross of Jesus Christ had two wooden planks, a vertical one and a horizontal one. The death of Jesus Christ brings reconciliation not only in our relationship with God but also in our relationship with our fellow human beings. It is not possible that one can truly love God and ignore the people around him. That’s why Jesus said the second is equally important, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We are living in a day and age when helping someone is looked upon with suspicion even by the person being helped. No one cares about the other. As a matter of fact, sometimes even if we care, we don’t have the time to show that we care!
The people around us can be divided into our immediate friends and family, our church, our non-believer friends and then the people we are not related to in any way. The bible talks about how godly and respectable our relationship with each of this group should be.
The first category is the Friends and Family. The Lord Jesus was once told that his mother and sisters are waiting outside the room to meet him. Jesus replied saying the ones who are inside the room and listening to him speak, are his family. In other words Jesus meant that the church where you fellowship is your real family. They are also your immediate parents, brothers, and sisters. The bible is very clear about our responsibility towards our family. As a child, to obey. As a husband to love, as a wife to submit. And as brothers and sister to live in harmony. This applies not only to our biological family, but also to our spiritual family, i.e. the church!
The second category is our friends who are not believers. As true friends, we have a great responsibility to shine the light of God into their lives. Jesus said “Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” It is God who has placed you in that particular friendship, or relationship with a specific purpose of shining his light in their lives. Friendship is not just about hanging out together, having fun, going for games together and doing stuff together. It’s more about keeping your life as an open book before the other person that the light of God might shine through you. Jesus made a friend in that thief even when he was hanging on the cross.
The third category is the people we don’t know or not related at all. We are all aware of the story of the good Samaritan. The Samaritan man was probably seeing the hurting traveler for the first time in his life. Still he chose to wait and help. Taking upon himself the risk of being attacked by similar robbers and also missing his important appointments for the day (things we consider so important). I can imagine someone doing that for a friend or a family member, but helping a total stranger is something unheard of. This story was in reply to a question asked to Jesus, Who’s my neighbor?
The life and ministry of Heidi Baker is one living example of obeying the command of Jesus “Love thy neighbor as yourself” God has used her apostolically to change the course of an entire nation of Mozambique, and reach out to 25 other nations just on the simple principle of preaching and practicing divine love. What identifies her with Jesus is not the numerous number of signs and wonders in her ministry but the expression of self sacrificing love. Its said that even the street children has access to the very same clothes her children wears! Her sermons are an expression of her worship and love for God. Oh how we need more people with self sacrificial love like Heidi Baker. Recommended read; ‘Compelled By Love’ by Heidi Baker and Shara Pradhan
Some people have a completely wrong understanding of the whole topic. They just go out on a charity spree! Nothing wrong in doing that, though! If you have the money please go ahead and do that. The point I want to make is that you need not have love or compassion to do a lot of charity. Anyone with a lot of money can do it and those who don’t can excuse themselves by saying ‘I am not capable of doing that!’ Please understand that God doesn’t judge you by your actions but by your motives. If the motives are right even a glass of plain water given to someone is a great feat. Two principles behind being a good neighbor is being Selfless and being Sensitive. The root cause of all sins is selfishness. The day your self and your selfish ambitions die you will start to become sensitive to other people’s needs and helplessness. It says Jesus was moved with compassion every time he saw a suffering person. If we are just sensitive to the people around us, we would know of numerous number of things we could say and do that would make us a loving neighbor to many in this hurting world.
Did you know that being insensitive to the people around you can land you up in hell? Please read Matthew 25:31-46 to understand that. Whatever category of people you are dealing with, its very important to be selfless and to be sensitive! Why don’t you ask God to make your heart and mind more sensitive to people around you and their real needs. Even when Jesus was on the cross he was sensitive to the needs to his family, the unbelieving friends and even the people who were mocking at him. As a result Mary got a new son in John, the thief on the cross entered the paradise and a roman centurion got saved!! I pray that the life and character of our Lord Jesus Christ may shine through your life for many around you to see and believe in HIM!