“To Justify Himself” ( Luke 10: 29, HCSB ) by Carley Evans

How many times have I fallen into this self-made trap? Many. But, Lord, is it wrong to save for retirement? But, Lord, that beggar will use that money to buy liquor. But, Lord, I need that, too. But, Lord, I can’t go overseas; I’m not good enough for that. But, Lord, someone else will stop. But, Lord…

An expert in the law asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus asks him what he thinks he needs to do based on what he knows of the law. The man correctly answers by saying he is to love the Lord his God with all his heart, soul, strength and mind; and he is to love his neighbor as himself. Jesus says, “You’ve answered correctly. Do this and you will live.” (Luke 10:28)

But the expert in the law wants to justify himself, so he asks Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29) Seeking to make himself right with God, he makes a lame excuse — I don’t know who my neighbor is, God.

Jesus tells the tale of the good Samaritan, the only one of three men who stops to help a traveler — a stranger — who is injured and helpless on the side of the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. The Samaritan goes out of his way to help this man who has been robbed and stripped and beaten.

Jesus wants to know who is the neighbor in this story. The expert in the law answers correctly again. The neighbor is the Samaritan who stops to help the stranger.

Be a good neighbor, says Jesus. Be a good neighbor to strangers and friends alike.

“Give, and it is given to you; a good measure — pressed down, shaken together, and running over — is poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it is measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38)

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