Every week one of The Salvation Army Officers will provide a devotional. Last week’s began with a brief remembrance of Mr. Rogers: his sweaters, canvas shoes, and friendly smile, and finally his theme song.
Mr. Rogers intro focuses on one thing: the neighborhood. He sings about the wonderful community and asks the viewer, “Won’t you be my neighbor?” Turning it around, we must ask others the same question.
What does it take to be a good neighbor? To be a person people want to be neighbors with? To answer this question we dove into Luke 10:29-37. There Jesus provides the story of the Good Samaritan in response to “who is my neighbor.” Additionally, the account provides example as to what it means to be neighborly.
He saw his pain
While the priest and the Levite passed the traveler by, the Samaritan saw the man. He noticed the way he had been attacked, stripped, and abused.
He showed compassion
The Samaritan took it upon himself to approach the man and do what he could. He didn’t just see the man’s pain, he sought to do something about it. He took the time to stop and care.
He offered support
Not only did the Samaritan show he cared, he gave of his time and talents. He bandaged his wounds, placed him atop his donkey and walked alongside until they reached a hotel. There he continued caring for the traveler until he needed to continue with his plans the next day. Then he paid ahead and asked the inn keeper to watch after the traveler. He even promised to reimburse the man for any additional expenses that may occur.
The Good Samaritan is a story of a man that put the pain of another before his own plans. He could have ignored the traveler like the priest and the Levite, but he doesn’t. He takes the responsibility of nurturing this man back to health, no matter the cost. We don’t see him pause to question whether it’s worth it. We don’t see him set a cap on the total he’s willing to spend. We don’t see him worry about waylaying his plans another day. He didn’t wonder who the man was, why he was beaten, whether he was good enough to deserve his kindness. He saw a need and he met it.
We see him care for the man as though he were caring for himself.
Likewise, we are called to notice the pain of our neighbors — even the stranger — be it emotional, physical, or spiritual pain.We are called to show mercy and to offer support.
We are called to follow this example.
Won’t you be my neighbor?
If you find yourself suddenly looking inward, you aren’t alone. Mr. Rogers makes me question whether or not I would want to be my neighbor. As James and I look to move into a neighborhood in order to build community with those around us, this story hit close to home.
Who will I care for? Will I set stipulations on how I care? How many ‘travelers’ have I passed by without a second glance? Where did God want to show His love but I was too selfish to allow Him to work in and through me?
Today I find myself begging God to open my eyes and help me care for my fellow man. Even typing those words I get a knot in my stomach knowing it’s not easy for me to release that control, to trust in my neighbor, or to trust God. Yet with each situation God has a way of softening my hard edges and showing the power of His grace.
Your will be done.