Saturday, August 27, 2016

Who Is My Neighbor?

To You:

The other day I read a short article entitled "True Religion."  The message of the article caught me and left me thinking on it all day.  As part of that profound yet simple message, the author elaborated upon the words of James by saying, "'Pure religion' is more than a declaration of belief; it is a demonstration of belief."  That belief is best demonstrated through the way we treat others, through selfless service.

The author gave three keys for growing in our ability to serve others.

  1. Seek Seek to be like the Savior and serve others.  Opportunities to serve may be inconvenient, but we ought to have the desire to help others.
  2. See Recognize the needs of those around us.
  3. Act We may feel inadequate to meet or alleviate the great needs surrounding us.  However, we need to trust that God can work through us when we choose to act.

The Story

We see this lesson in the quintessential sermon on service: the Parable of the Good Samaritan found in the New Testament in Luke 10:25-37.  In this well-known story, a lawyer asks the Savior what he should do to inherit eternal life.  Christ allows the man to answer his own question with the  injunction to "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 neighbor as thyself."  This is a law that had been taught at least since the beginning of biblical times. (For example see Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18.)  Yet, it is a law that just as early as that until today can be difficult to put into practice.  The lawyer seems to recognize that difficulty and tempts Christ by asking, "And who is my neighbor."  Then follows the story.
Picture Credit
A man was robbed and left wounded on a traveler's road to Jericho.  A priest (a "religious" leader) and a Levite (a man of the temple) in turn saw the man but passed by on the other side of the road.  A Samaritan next travels the road.  He saw the man and "had compassion on him."  The Samaritan tended to the man's wounds, cared for him at an inn, and provided for his further comfort.  The Samaritan was of a loathed class and foreign city.  He could have felt that the traveler got what he deserved or that if the tables were turned, that man probably wouldn't help him, a Samaritan.  He could have been too busy or in too much of a hurry to get where he was going.  He could have assumed someone else should or would help out.  Instead, we find a man who sought to serve others, saw a need, and acted.

The Moral

Now for our lesson.  Jesus asked, "Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves?  And [the lawyer] said, He that showed mercy on him."  So who is a neighbor?  He who makes himself a neighbor through  merciful compassion.  Mercy is the "kind or forgiving treatment of someone who could be treated harshly."  The dictionary says that compassion is a "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress (see) together with a desire (seek) to alleviate it (act)."  "Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise."  We must live outside ourselves enough and at a pace requisite to see and allow ourselves to feel for others.  Then we must act with mercy.  I find it interesting that one common use of the word "mercy" throughout the Bible is in mention of the Mercy Seat.  This was considered the throne of God; it was God's meeting place with man.  God meets and deals with man with mercy.  We ought to follow the Greatest of All.

The Now

What does it look like today?  How are we neighbors?  It may look like a young lady helping a homeless person, gentleness across political lines, or maybe it's a white police officer being kind to a black woman.  Most likely, it is small and simple acts.  If you were me in the last couple months of pregnancy, worries, delivery, and life, you would have seen many neighbors in action.

What does my neighbor look like?  My neighbor looks like the mom who watches your children, keeps them longer than planned, and always insists that it's nothing.  It is the friend's dad who drives the extra carpool.  It is the one who listens to the excitements and fears of your life with genuine interest, joy, or concern.  It is the neighbor who brings over a warm dinner on a night when the kids are tired.  It's the friend who shares her talents and knowledge in a perfect timing unforeseen by either.  It's the one who slips you gas money before a much anticipated road trip.  It is the neighbor's lawn care team who quickly and quietly mow your lawn while you're picking up the kids from school, twice.  It is the hugs and kisses that kids give best.  Its the one who fasts and prays for another.  It is the little one who offers the heartfelt prayer, "Help Mommy to be healthy when the baby comes."  It is the husband who holds your hand through contractions and seems to know exactly when to encourage, when to compliment, and when to crack a joke.  It is the friend or family member who texts with joy and delight, even when their personal struggle could lead them to think, "Why not me?"  It's the friend who says, "Call me if..." and you know she means it because she's already done it countless times.  It's the call or text or email, "Thinking of you."  It is the angel mother who comes to town and cooks and cleans and entertains, who gives up sleep, habits, hubby, and other worthy duties to bring patience, fun, and constant service, all the while making you feel like it is her joy.  It's the father who works tirelessly so mother can afford to do that.  It's the person who says, "I love you" and means it.

It has been said that we are losing our humanity.  That could be true.  But in my little world, there are more neighbors than not.

I hope all of my neighbors know how grateful I am for them.  I have been humbled and awed.

The Invitation

Thomas S. Monson said, "Each of us, in the journey through mortality, will travel his own Jericho Road.  What will be your experience?  What will be mine?  Will I fail to notice him who has fallen among thieves and requires my help?  Will you?

Will I be one who sees the injured and hears his plea, yet crosses to the other side?  Will you?

Or will I be one who sees, who hears, who pauses, and who helps?  Will you?

Jesus provided our watchword, 'Go, and do thou likewise.'  When we obey that declaration, there opens to our eternal view a vista of joy seldom equaled and never surpassed."

I offer my heartfelt thanks to all who have made themselves my neighbor, and I hope that each of us will feel the joy that comes when we choose to make of ourselves a true neighbor.

Love, Marielle

"Won't you be my neighbor?"

Shared at: Faith Filled Fridays and Thoughtful Thursdays