Bible Reading: Luke 10:25-37
“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.” And, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27
Travis and Kyle walked home from school together almost every day, stopping at the MinuteMart to buy sodas. After Travis finished his drink, he usually tossed the empty paper cup on someone’s lawn—unless he was in front of the Cooks’ house. Kyle couldn’t figure out why Travis wouldn’t trash the Cooks’ lawn. He finally asked, “How come you throw your cups on anybody’s lawn but the Cooks’?”
“Because,” Travis answered, “we’re supposed to love our neighbors, and the Cooks are my next-door neighbors. The other people aren’t my neighbors, so I don’t care if I leave trash in their yards.”
Travis sounds like he’s rather confused. Jesus made it clear that the command to love your neighbor isn’t just about the people who actually live next door. God wants you to love all your neighbors because he loves all your neighbors.
When Jesus was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” he told the parable of the Good Samaritan, who showed love toward a man mugged by robbers (see Luke 10:29-37). The story shows that neighbors aren’t just people who have the same education, income, ethnic heritage, or zip code as you do. Neighbors are people in need—whoever and wherever they may be. Neighbors are all people everywhere, because everyone needs to be loved.
Jesus’ command for us to love everyone wasn’t new. Way back in the Old Testament Moses wrote down into law God’s words, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). God commanded Israel to show loving concern not only for those of their own kind, but also for the poor and strangers (Leviticus 19:9-10). God’s invitation runs through the Old Testament: “Love people—all people—like I do.”
In the New Testament, God’s love is offered to all people. Christ died for the whole world (see John 3:16), and God plans for us to share the good news of salvation with “all the nations” (Matthew 28:19). He commands us to “do good to everyone” (Galatians 6:10).
So if you want to love like God, don’t limit your love to people like you—or people you like. Jesus left no one out of his command to love. He instructed, “Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Pray for the happiness of those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you” (Luke 6:27-28). You get to love all people just as Jesus does, because everyone is your neighbor!
TALK: How wide does God’s love stretch? How can you enlarge your love?
PRAY: Lord, teach us to love all people—not just the ones like us who live next door.
ACT: Make a plan to show love today to someone who isn’t like you.