Summary: In this message we look at what it means to be a good neighbor and how we can become better at it.
THE ART OF NEIGHBORING
“HOW can I be a good Neighbor?”
1st Corinthians 9:20-23
So we began a new series of messages last Sunday I have titled “The Art of Neighboring.” Last week we looked at the story of the Good Samaritan and we said that there are often several things that seem to keep us from helping other people. First of all there is geography. A person is different to us because they grew up in a different location, have a different accent—in other words they are not like us. Perhaps they do not sound like us. There is race. Their culture or their skin color is different—in other words they do not look like us. There is worship. Their religion and the way they worship does not match ours. In other words, either their God is different or they do not see him in the same way as we do.
So what we saw last week was that the Samaritan, who was the most unlikely person to do so, overcame these barriers to help someone with a great need. And in doing so he answered a question we have been asking for centuries... WHO is my neighbor?
ANSWER: My neighbor is anyone I can be a neighbor to.
So I think that when we are making a decision about being a neighbor to someone, there are several questions we must learn to ask.
• Is someone in need?
• Does the person know Christ? (Good to know whether they do or not)
• Is this an opportunity to show the love of Christ?
• Do I have the resources necessary?
Now there are two other passages of Scripture here for us to consider. One is known as the Great Commandment. In the study of the Good Samaritan the lawyer ask Jesus this question, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus then flipped/bounced the question back to him and said, “What do you read in the Scripture?” He replies with these words. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength them with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself.” This is known as the great Commandment and Jesus’s response you will remember was “do this and you will live.” Love God. Love people. Treat your neighbor as you would want to be treated.
The second passage is Matthew 28:18-20 and we refer to it as the Great Commission. This passage comes at the end of the gospel of Matthew. It is as though Jesus has called one final meeting with his disciples before he will leave Earth and He says-I’m leaving and I want you remember this one thing. “As you go out into the world, take the gospel to everyone.” The gospel is the good news, the fact that God has done something in Jesus Christ that we could not do for ourselves. That is why it is good news. Because without Jesus we are completely lost.
So these would be two of the most important Scriptures in the Bible. One sums up all of the law of the OT and the other contains His final instructions for every believer-to take the gospel with you wherever you go. Now-stay with me-because while both of these commandments are extremely important, we are still left with a lingering question. HOW? He has given us the WHAT-WHAT are we to do? We are to be a good neighbor. But now HOW do we do it? And that is the question Paul answers in this passage.
So two of the individuals who refused to stop and help the Samaritan both were thinking just how little can I do and still get into heaven? How little can I do to get by? I want heaven but I don’t care as long as I get there by the skin of my teeth. Whatever that means. ? But we come across the great Apostle Paul and he seems to be asking just the opposite. HOW much can I do for Jesus? Paul said I only preach one thing and that is the cross of Christ. The cross of course is the ultimate picture of commitment, right? This is where all the sin of the world was taken care of. All placed on Jesus … all at one time … so it was not just the physical pain Jesus felt; it was also the spiritual pain as well. Paul points to the cross and he reminds us that life is not about how little we can do but rather but how much we can do for Christ. Paul wants to show us how far he was willing to go to reach someone for Christ. Look at what he says. “I am willing to minister to those who are under the law and also to those who are not under the law.” Here he was speaking of Jews and Gentiles. Now if you are not familiar with the term Gentile, just think of non—Jews. But the differences in the first century were huge. There was a difference in the clothing they wore, the holidays they observed and their religious beliefs. This was actually a dangerous practice for Paul to do what he was doing. He tells us in fact in the book of Romans just how dangerous it was.