Andrew wrote the following oratory for the ACE Jr. State Convention this past February. He won 1st place and received a medal, but the fact that my son, who just turned 13 in January, has such a wonderful understanding of God's Word means so much more to me than the awards. I am so grateful that the Lord continues to teach me so many things through my children.
Who is my Neighbor?
You may remember a time when you watched” Mr. Rogers Neighborhood” on television. It is even possible that you remember singing along with Mr. Rogers the song, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Well, have you ever wondered who your neighbor really is? Where your neighbor lives or how to love your neighbor? I would like to help answer these questions.
Who is my neighbor? The Miriam-Webster Dictionary states a neighbor is "one living or located near another, or, is a fellow man". The Bible says in Luke 10:36-37, "Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves?" And he said, "He that showed mercy on him." Then said Jesus unto him, "Go and do thou likewise” I believe that this is saying that your neighbor is everyone, but they are especially those whose needs you see and are able to meet.
So where is your neighbor? Your neighbor is everywhere. From your next door neighbor, to your friend across town, to your grandparents a couple of states away, actually that would be everyone in the World, in other words you have 6.9 billion neighbors!
So how do you love your neighbor? Think about Jesus’ command in Mark 12:31b, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” How do we do this in a practical way? I believe that we should treat others the way we want to be treated, no matter who they are. They may not look just like us, or speak the same language, but God loves them and we should too! I believe that treating others with respect is really what this verse is talking about. Jesus actually gave us many other examples on how to love our neighbors.
Probably the best known example would be the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37. The Good Samaritan was a man from Samaria who showed mercy to a Jew. The Samaritans and Jews were enemies. Two of the Jewish man’s own people, other Jews, passed by him and did not bother to stop and help him, yet the Samaritan, a person who could have easily walked on by was the one who stopped to help this man. In this case, someone he considered his enemy showed him love and mercy. The Samaritan was his true neighbor.
Jesus himself showed mercy to the ten lepers in Luke 17:12-19, as he healed them of their leprosy. In John 4:3-30, we read about the woman at the well. This was a woman who was in great sin, she was not living a virtuous life, and yet Jesus did not judge her, but he told her to sin no more and forgave her. This is just one of the many examples that Jesus gave us on how to really love our neighbors.
Also, pertaining to forgiveness, Matthew 18:21-22 shows us Jesus talking to Peter about how many times we must forgive someone’s sins, saying in verse 22 “And Jesus said unto him, "I say not unto thee, until seven times, but until seventy times seven.” Loving your neighbor also means forgiving them.
I hope this has given you something to think about. Our neighbors are really everyone we meet from the lady next door, to the cashier at the store, to a student at a BLESS school in the Philippines. We should love them like Jesus, showing forgiveness and mercy to everyone. We should love our neighbors as ourselves.