Loving Our Neighbors
21 “The one who despises his neighbor sins, but whoever shows kindness to the poor will be happy”
As followers of Jesus, we have an obligation to care for our neighbors. More specifically, we are called to help those who have needs in our community and around the world.
His name was Christian, and he wasn’t what you think of when you think about someone who is homeless. He was well-dressed. He spoke really clearly and was very polite. If you passed him on the street, you would never know how great his needs really were. The only reason my friends and I even noticed him on the busy streets of New Orleans was because he was standing in the rain and asked us for a very specific amount of money, $27.50. (We later found out that he needed that much to stay at a local hostel down the street. We drove him there and paid for two nights).
As we talked to Christian, we found out that he had just had some really bad luck. He had recently lost his job. He hadn’t done anything wrong, his company just didn’t have enough work to keep him on payroll. At the very same time, Christian had to make a hard decision. It was either pay his rent or have money to eat for the next two weeks. He chose to eat. That choice cost him his apartment. He was now homeless. Because he had no permanent residence, no one would hire him. And because he had no job, he couldn’t afford a permanent residence. Do you see the cycle? Christian was stuck.
These are the people that followers of Jesus are called to love. Solomon tells us that we sin when we fail to love our neighbor, but that we will be happy when we show kindness toward the poor. We have an obligation as the Church of Jesus Christ to care for those who have the greatest needs in our world. If we fail to love our neighbors, especially those who have the greatest needs, we fail to love God Himself. Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matt. 25:40b). Simply put, if we love Jesus, we love those who have needs. If we don’t love the poor and needy, we don’t love Jesus.
This does not mean that we all must apply for our Social Justice Warrior membership cards. But this does mean that followers of Jesus should long to be like Jesus himself. The Jesus who Paul said,
6 …though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:6-11).
When all else is said in done, may we be found faithful to have the same heart and mind that Jesus had. Who although he was rich in every way, took on our spiritual poverty so that we might experience the rich blessing of intimacy with God!
Questions To Ponder
What adjectives are used to describe types of people in this verse?
What does it mean to “despise” someone? Have you felt this lately?
Why do you think the result of generosity to poor is blessing?
Stop and pray, asking God to open your heart to what He is saying to you through His Word.
Scripture Memory | January | Proverbs 17:9
“Whoever would foster love covers over an offense,
but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.”