As I write this post I’ll be taking most of my quotes from the open heavens devotional on ‘who is my neighbor?’ You might have seen my blog tittle and thought how does this apply to me (tempted to skip)? but it does so keep reading! I had the same reaction when I came across this heading in my devotional. I immediately thought ‘this heading isn’t catchy enough, let me read something else’. That was the first thing I noticed as I reflected afterwards. When we see ‘neighbor’ or ‘giving’ we have the urge to look somewhere else; we feel we’ve heard it all before. We may assume that ‘there is no gain in this for me so it doesn’t affect me.’ But most of us like myself are falling for the ‘missing in time of need kind of love’ syndrome.
As I closed the pages to look for another devotional that is more “touching” I felt the need to go back so I opened it again. But before starting I prayed (which I didn’t do the first time) that God should open my heart to receive the message he had for me through the help of the Holy Spirit. We need to be open to receive from God always.
Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side.”
The passage was taken from Luke 10:30-31. Jesus spoke this parable to explain how we should behave towards our neighbors. That is both our brothers and strangers. In the passage a priest passed by, then a Levite, but these two people did the same thing- they crossed to the other side of the road.
As I read this I began to recall experiences when I deliberately walked to the other side of the road to avoid a beggar or someone I knew would beg me for something. I recalled when someone asked me for 100Naira and I said I didn’t have but I had a 1000Naira note and felt it was too much to part with. I have to admit that I felt sad as I recalled.
As you know (or you are just knowing) love is a foundation. Relationships, goals and life in general built on this foundation are strong, sustainable and yield eternal reward. The love of God is in us because God is in us but this loves needs to abound. That is it needs to be demonstrated practically if not it can wax cold. The Samaritan man was seen as someone who wasn’t “Christ like”, maybe he didn’t even have a religion but he had a heart of giving and helping. There are so many examples of people with such characters these days and yet don’t believe that God exists.
We can see the impartial loving nature of God as He blesses the righteous and the wicked. You can say that the priest and Samaritan more or less were both blessed. The Samaritan might have even been more wealthy cause while the others were walking he had a donkey! We also shouldn’t restrict our love to our families, friends and members of the same religion alone. It’s common to feel that you do not have to help a person simply because you do not know them but Jesus commands otherwise.
At every given time, you must help those you come across to the best of your ability. When it becomes necessary, you must go the extra mile to show love to people, regardless of whether they deserve it or not. – Pastor E.A Adeboye
Another problem around love and giving is fear and greed and this can be demonstrated in the passage below:
1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
From warnings like ‘be careful when you are helping people on the road’, I began to categorize every beggar under potential danger zone. The feeling not to give comes from a feeling of fear- “What if something happens to me?” and greed- “how much will I have left?” . Jesus Christ came in contact with people with epilepsy, the blind, the leprous, even the demon possessed people of which ritualists fall under. Nothing happened to him, he was victorious and drew more men unto himself.
There were so many people at the pool of Bethesda that needed help but Jesus only went to one. Jesus didn’t heal everyone. There were probably so many sick people in the land but only a few had faith enough to approach him.
You don’t have to help the whole world, the savior has taken care of that but don’t cast anyone out.
Lastly, we should remember that strife, division, condemnation, envy and jealousy are not reflections of the mind of Christ and definitely not reflections of love.
If there’s anything to remember after reading this post it is:
1. Love is a foundation you should build on and to do so you need to build your life on Christ.
2. Let your love abound to all; both practically and impartially.
3. Replace fear and greed with love and cheerful giving.
4. Christ has done it all so all you have to do is be an example and an instrument of his love.
Do your best to give yourself and add value to someone. All you have to do is extend your heart and your hand and in fact your whole being. Also you never know who is watching so be a good and cheerful giver.