The word NEIGHBOR is a beautiful word. I love it. It includes all the people we live with on this planet, not just those on our street, in our cul-de-sac, or even those who are in the same faith or culture or nation. The whole world is our neighborhood!
I feel the Savior was trying to teach that we are all neighbors when he shared the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 26:25-37). A lawyer tempted Jesus, asking what he should do to inherit eternal life. Jesus asked him what was written in the law, and how he read or understood it. The lawyer knew. He responded with “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.” Jesus commended him for having the right answer and told him “this do, and thou shalt live.” The lawyer added another question: “And who is my neighbor?” And then came the parable of the Good Samaritan.
Jesus spoke of a man who fell among thieves and was left “half dead” by the road. Several passed by on the other side, doing nothing to help. Then came the Samaritan, who likely didn’t know the wounded man. But he had compassion. He bound up his wounds, took him to an inn, and “took care of him.” When he had to leave the next day he gave money to the host, asking him to take care of the man, promising that when he came again he would repay whatever it cost the host to help the man. And then came the question (Jesus taught so many great truths with questions!): He asked the lawyer which was neighbor to the man who fell among thieves. The lawyer’s response was that the neighbor was the one who had shown mercy. Jesus told him (again) to go and do likewise.
And of course it’s a message of us, too. There are likely more opportunities to become “good Samaritans” to others than we recognize – more chances to respond (whenever possible) to the pain, fear, hunger, loneliness and other “wounds” of our neighbors – whether they live in our own home, across the street, across the fence, across the mountain, or across the ocean. Anywhere. Our neighborhood is world-wide. (I know some of you are humming “It’s a small world after all.”) (Small factoid: I love it that I was born in the Good Samaritan Hospital – the one in Los Angeles).
We cannot love God unless we also love His children. Pure love – charity – is not limited by class, culture, race, color, creed, or anything else. Many religions and viewpoints are represented among our neighbors, aren’t they. President Howard W. Hunter: The members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints open their arms to neighbors everywhere. The restored Church of Christ assumes its charge and responsibility to take the gospel of Jesus Christ in love to its neighbors over the world and endeavors to help those who receive the gospel to live the teachings of the Master. (Conference Report, October 1970) And President Ezra Taft Benson taught: Our Father’s children need the gospel. They long for, and want, the security and inner peace that only the gospel can bring. Our Father’s children are essentially good. I have visited with them in some sixty nations… True, some are in bondage under despotic, Godless leaders, but they want to live in peace, to be good neighbors. They love their homes and their families. They want to improve their standard of living. In their hearts they want to do what is right. I know the Lord loves them, and as his humble servant I have a love in my heart for the teeming millions of this world. (Conference Report, April 1970) Think of the ways in which the Ten Commandments and many other specific examples given by the Savior – including the way He lived His life – which teach us to treat others with love and kindness, no matter who, no matter when, no matter where. Did you see the movie “Oliver?” You likely you remember the sweet song he sang: “Where is Love.” “Every night I kneel and pray, Let tomorrow be the day When I can see the face of someone who I can mean something to. Where, where is love?” (Lionel Bart, Oliver)
There are many lessons in the scriptures and other places which encourage us to love our neighbor. President Russell M. Nelson shared a beautiful message with regional representatives years ago which was printed in the Ensign in January 1987: “Love Thy Neighbor.” And I love what brother Robert J. Matthews taught: The Lord has made known how people ought to treat one another. By searching the scriptures on this subject we become more fully aware that we do have a responsibility to promote the happiness and well-being of our fellow humans. (Ensign, Oct 1975)
Years ago I ran across a wonderful little “Happy Day Book” with the title: Who is Your Neighbor? I did a search and found it, and I’m going to try to post my less-than-perfect pictures of each page (it’s not too long) and share them with you (I hope they don’t disappear too quickly. I’m going to include the words just in case the pictures DO disappear. I wish I were more of a “tecchie” (I don’t even know how to spell it). Don’t let my inadequacy spoil the message! I hope you’ll enjoy this little book with the critical message as much as I do. And I’ve decided that since there are so many pictures with this, I’m going to post it in a separate Blog… just in case ALL the pictures disappear . . . . Thank you – all of you and each of you – for being wonderful neighbors and compassionate Good Samaritans. Have a beautiful Sabbath!
WHO IS YOUR NEIGHBOR? By Virginia Mueller, Illustrated by Lorraine Arthur.
Who is your neighbor? A neighbor is part of your family of love. He does not live in your house, but he should live in your heart. Neighbors are everywhere. They live in the house next door, in the tent next to your tent, across the hall, two farms down a country road. Some neighbors live faraway. They may be people you have never seen – who have difference faces and live in different places. You can thank God for His blessings by sharing with these neighbors – food to eat, clothes to wear, medicine to make them well, money to build a schoolhouse, or dig a well for water. With neighbors who live nearby, you can share backyards, apples from your apple tree, falling leaves, a puddle, a secret. Who is your neighbor? A neighbor is someone who needs you. You can be a good neighbor by helping someone who needs help, by caring what happens to others, by giving instead of getting. Neighbors work together. Neighbors play together. Neighbors pray to our Father together. A neighbor is part of your family of love. God wants you to widen your heart to include all of His children.
THANK YOU – ALL OF YOU AND EACH OF YOU – FOR BEING WONDERFUL NEIGHBORS AND COMPASSIONATE GOOD SAMARITANS. HAVE A BEAUTIFUL SABBATH!