“Who Is My Neighbor?” ( Luke 10: 29, NIV ) by Carley Evans


“But he wants to justify himself, so he asks Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

 

Jesus replies with the story of the Jewish man who “falls into the hands of robbers. They strip him of his clothes, beat him and go away, leaving him half dead.” (Luke 10:30) So, this man lies naked along the side of a road. “A priest happens to be going down the same road, and when he sees the man, he passes by on the other side.” Apparently, this priest not only goes on his way, but he deliberately avoids the man likely by crossing to the other side so he will not have to look at the man who is half dead. A Levite comes along, and also makes a concerted effort to ignore and avoid the half dead man.

 

But, a Samaritan – a hated enemy of the Jew — upon sighting the bleeding, dying man takes pity on him. He goes to him, bandages his wounds after “pouring on oil and wine. Then he puts the man on his own donkey, takes him to an inn and takes care of him.” (Luke 10:34) He pays the innkeeper “two silver coins” to “look after him.” (Luke 10:35) He also promises to repay any extra expenses when he returns. He has no intention of going on his way without a planned return to check up on the injured man.

 

It’s likely the innkeeper is surprised to find a Samaritan helping a Jew. And imagine the bewilderment the Jewish man will feel when he finally recovers, perhaps even encountering the Samaritan upon his return to the inn.

 

Today, the event Jesus describes might be akin to a Muslim who stops to help a Christian. This Christian is bleeding to death from being mugged and stabbed in a city alley. A pastor might pass by, crossing to the other side of the street. A judge might avoid the bleeding man. But, a Muslim stops to help. He bandages the man, carries him to his own car, takes him to a local emergency room where he guarantees payment to the intake personnel at the front desk.

 

Seeking to justify ourselves, we may say that the Muslim is not our neighbor, but our enemy. Jesus contradicts us.

“The Evil Man Has No Future” (Psalm 59: 16, ESV) by Carley Evans


David knows Saul is seeking to kill him. Yet, David sings, recognizing God is “a fortress and a refuge in the day of [his] distress.” David sings, “God will let me look in triumph on my enemies.” (Psalm 59: 10)

Jesus says, “You who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To the one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either.” (Luke 6: 27 – 29)

David asks God not to kill his enemies, but to “make them totter by Your power.” (Psalm 59: 11) He asks that they “be trapped in their pride.” (Psalm 59: 12)

Solomon strongly advises, “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the Lord see it and be displeased, and turn away His anger from him. Fret not yourself because of evildoers, and be not envious of the wicked, for the evil man has no future; the lamp of the wicked will be put out.” (Proverbs 24: 17 – 20)

Paul writes, “Repay no one evil for evil.” (Romans 12: 17) “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12: 19 – 21)

Do not be afraid of your enemy. God is your strength and fortress. Do not take revenge. God is in control and this is His realm, not yours. Do good to those who hate you; and so overcome evil through good. Do not envy the wicked; for his lamp is of darkness and he has no future.