Won’t You Be My Neighbor

Proverbs 24:23-25

These also are sayings of the wise:

To show partiality in judging is not good:
Whoever says to the guilty, “You are innocent,”
will be cursed by peoples and denounced by nations.
But it will go well with those who convict the guilty,
and rich blessing will come on them.

Luke 10:30-37

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Devotion

In his book of “wise” sayings, King Solomon warns against the danger of prejudice or partiality. In the above text, Solomon declares that judgment must be just, and wickedness must not be condoned. Favoritism of any kind was condemned in the law, yet Israel had a long history of prejudice.

Jesus tells a parable in Luke chapter ten that demonstrates Israel’s failure in this area. The parable is about a man who is robbed, beaten, and left for dead. In this story, two men come upon this victim: a priest and a Levite. Both of these men saw the man in distress but went out of their way to avoid him. It is important to note that these men were identified as religious leaders. Then Jesus introduces another person into this story. The third person was identified as a Samaritan. This is very important. The Jewish people viewed Samaritans as half-breeds, both physically and spiritually. Samaritans and Jews practiced open hostility toward each other, yet Jesus intentionally makes the hero of the story a Samaritan. The hated Samaritan took pity on the injured man. He went to him. He bandaged his wounds. Then he transported him to an inn where he could be cared for. To top it all off, he paid for this man’s care out of his own pocket. Jesus is clearly teaching that love and mercy know no national boundaries. But he is also showing that prejudice is wrong. This parable was told in response to a question from a lawyer who was trying to trap Jesus into saying something they could use against Him. Jesus jumped right into the trap and turned it into an opportunity to teach a very important lesson.

In the Gospel of John, the religious leaders would accuse Jesus of being a “demon-possessed Samaritan.” This false accusation would be used to try and discredit everything Jesus said and did. This demonstrates the hatred they had for all Samaritans and for Jesus. How would you have felt if you were a Samaritan man or woman in the temple courts that day? We are living in a world that is about to explode. At the heart of this crisis is the inability to see people the way God sees them and the inability to love people the way God loves them. I see this as an opportunity for the church to rise up and demonstrate God’s love to those who feel marginalized in our society. You see, right now we have a choice. We can choose to be the priest or the Levite in Jesus’ story. Or we can choose to be the Samaritan who demonstrated love and mercy!

Questions to Ponder:

What is your typical response to injustice? If Jesus inserted you into His story, which character would you be? Have you ever spoken or thought things about people that were not true? How does Solomon’s warning regarding prejudice (partiality) impact you today?

Prayer Points

  • Ask God to uproot any religious spirit in you. Ask Him to empower you through the Holy Spirit to see everyone the way you see them.
  • Pray that God would slow you down so that you don’t miss seeing those who are in need.
  • Ask God to show you ways that you can rise up to show and demonstrate God’s love and mercy to those in need.
  • Pray for the greater Church to break off the chains of partiality, favoritism and racism.

Suggested Prayer
Father in Heaven hallow be thy name! I worship and adore You, bring You praise and honor. Thank You Lord for this sermon series and thank You for Bob and leaders who are willing to speak the hard truth and not overlook it.

I’m sorry God for how bad things have gotten and how far I have personally fallen. Forgive me Lord and bring to my memory ways I have offended you and hurt others in my thoughts, words and actions. Lord, you see so many are hearts broken right now, and rightly so. You also see many who don’t think anything is wrong. Lord, by Your mercy, grace and kindness open wide hearts to see things the way You see them. Help Your church to be ones who mourn with those who mourn and come alongside each person grieving. For those who don’t know You yet Lord, I ask that You give each one of us the chance to share life everlasting with them. I ask that you allow us to bind up the broken hearted and set the captives free. I ask that You make me and Your church like Paul who was all things to all people. In the Name of Jesus Christ, I ask. Amen.

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