Who is our neighbor?
I’ve heard many people tell others that they are to love their neighbors because Jesus said so…
That kind of never settled well with me. To tell you the truth, I have lousy neighbors, and when they ignore me or give me an attitude, I just want to return that same gesture. But, the Bible says to love your neighbor. Oops, there I go, I don’t want to sound like I’m a mean person, but let’s be honest. There are times when we are just not in the mood to deal with neighbors. Me, myself, and I love to talk to people, but when I’m tired, hungry, and rushing to do something; it’s just not a good time for me and I’m sure its the same thing for you.
We are to love people, our neighbors and those around us. You are supposed to love, and love your neighbor that’s what Jesus said it in Matthew 19:19 NKJV “Honor your father and your mother,” and, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Oh, man, I need to love my neighbor as myself… Woe to me because I don’t know if I can love the neighbor as myself. I mean, come on, like myself? What was Jesus thinking? If my neighbor is a serial killer, a thieve, a lazy yard keeper, a gossiper, or a bully – I’m supposed to love them? Ahh, I don’t think anyone would agree. Needless to say, Jesus said it in Matthew 19:19. This really bothers me because what if? What if I did have a mean serial killer as my neighbor? I’ll keep all my loved ones away from their yeard – I mean, I would literally buy a gun for protection…
So, I am puzzled by that verse, and I know some of you are already judging me and all, but, well, hold on to your horses. Let us examine the word in the original writings as in the New Testament Greek Lexicon (Greek lexicon based on Thayer’s and Smith’s Bible Dictionary).
First, the word love (Matthew 19:19 to love your neighbor) here is “Agapao.” Ref. Strong’s number #25. The word “Agapao” means to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly, and it is used of “things” to be connected at, and or with a thing. This word “love” is not the same word as “Agape.” Agape is the highest form of true love, which perfectly describes the kind of love for our Lord, Jesus Christ, and our heavenly Father; it is also as to love your parents, siblings, relatives, spouse, or children.
Secondly, the word “Neighbor” ref. Strong’s number #4139, is “a friend, any other person and where two are concerned, the other (according to the Jews, any member of the Hebrew nation and commonwealth).” Also, according to Christ, any other man irrespective of nation or religion with whom we live or whom we chance to meet.” This is interesting because it doesn’t include the people living next to you. However, we do use the word neighbor to describe the people around us.
Now, I remember a story in the Bible, which is a very good example of who is your neighbor. In Luke 10:29, but I’m gonna start with verse 27, Jesus speaking – Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. And He said unto Him, Thou hast answered right; this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said to Jesus and who is my neighbor? And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way and when he saw him. he passed by on the other side. And likewise, a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, passed by the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and brought him to an Inn, and took care of him. And on the morning when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave to the host and said unto him, “take care of him and whatsoever thou spends more, when I come again, I will repay thee.” Which now of these three, do you think was a neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said he that showed mercy on him. Then Jesus said unto him, Go and do thou likewise.
So, when someone tells you, “love your neighbor,” smile and know, that you are aware of who is your true neighbor. Our neighbor is someone who reaches out to help you in any situation. It can be the person right next to you or a foreigner passing through. The good Deeds done by us and by our neighbors are written down in the Book of Life, which is used in the day of judgment with our profile in it. Every detail of works will be documented as we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. It is stated in Revelation 20:12 (KJV) And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the Book of Life: and the dead were judged out of those things, which were written in the books, according to their works.
You can express either Agapao or Agape love, and that’s up to you.
Pastor Gracie Renteria