27 Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.
28 Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.
This seems like a simple enough thing to do. If we know that someone is in need and we are able to help, then we should. This is one way that we show love to our neighbor, as Jesus commands.
What about those we do not always want to help? Who is our neighbor?
This makes me think of the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
In the day of the Jews, the Samaritans were not well-regarded in any measure. In-fact, there was a lot of hatred between the two groups. Even so, when a man from Jerusalem was beaten and wounded, people from his own country ignored him. It was a Samaritan—his enemy—who stopped and cared for the wounded man. The Samaritan treated the wounded stranger as a neighbor while the others did not.
What can we learn from this?
We should do good to anyone who is in need when it is in our power to do so, even if we don’t always like the person or what they stand for. Sometimes this means loving our enemy.
We do not have to agree with people in order to do good to them. Some of us need to re-learn this, especially in this time of divisive issues.
It is not always easy to do good to enemies. We must humble ourselves. We must stop and think about how we would want to be treated. Sometimes we have to trust in the Lord. What if that man from Jerusalem—who was an enemy—recovered then did harm to the Samaritan? The Samaritan did what was right without fear. That is not always easy to do.
Some situations are dangerous, and we do not want to put ourselves or others in harm’s way. For example, a young woman probably should not pick up a hitchhiker. We have to use wisdom in all situations, because it is not always in our power to do good. However, we should not use fear as an excuse when we do in-fact have the power to do good, we just don’t want to.
If someone is without necessities or in harm’s way and we do nothing, then we are not keeping the commandments of Jesus. This is true for an enemy or those we are otherwise at odds with. How much more is this true for our brothers and sisters in Christ?
Jesus teaches that what we do to the least of our brethren we do also to Him, and what we withhold from the least of our brethren we also withhold from Him. Jesus also teaches that He will divide the sheep from the goats, and this has to do with those who care for the brethren and those who do not (Matthew 25). This should strike some fear of the Lord into our hearts, especially if we are neglecting our brethren.
I think of this in a metaphorical way when considering my brothers and sisters in Christ. Many are wondering around, searching for that promised land. As Jesus said, they are like sheep without a shepherd. Why? Because they are under the care of a “hireling” who is not truly working for the Good Shepherd. On their way to the promised land, they are ambushed, beaten, and robbed.
There are many who come in the name of Jesus falsely and blatantly so. They do not believe in God, but they see ministry as an easy money-making endeavor, and they thrive off of the power and control religious positions provide. Others want to do good, but they can do a lot of harm through blind loyalty to systemic Christian ideas.
In any case, knowing what I know (my understanding is not full, and I do not claim it to be) how could I just pass by and say nothing? There are many false Christian teachings, some of which are less harmful than others. Some are potentially deadly. So, if I love my neighbor—and more than that—love my brethren, then I must speak out. So. I will, and I will keep learning how to put a finer point on my writings so that the words are more loving and effective. As new dangers arise, I will speak out against those too—Lord willing.
I would love for Christians to love me as I love them. I would love for them to have discussions with me if they believe me to be in error. I would love for those who agree with me to stand with me instead of shying away. Instead, they just pass on by, willing to let me be beaten and robbed. It is a small thing. We should not fear what man can do, because if God is with us no one can be against us.
How can we love our neighbor better, especially those we do not agree with or consider to be an enemy? How can we love our brethren better? What excuses do we make for ourselves? These are good questions to think about today. I try to love my neighbor and I always strive to do better, so this is not just a thought for today, but an on-going theme for me. Still, it is always good to consider again, so I will.