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Are You Truly Loving Your Closest Neighbor?

The men's group I attend has been studying the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. It has been helpful to take this very familiar parable and really work and study through it. For anyone who really takes time to study it, there is buried treasure to unearth. Jesus helps us focus on what it means to “be a neighbor to someone in need”.

As you may remember, that passage of Scripture starts off with a religious expert asking Jesus a question about what he must to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus turns the question back around on him, and then affirms the answer given by this leader: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself”.

But then the man asks a second question: “And who is my neighbor?” This is when Jesus tells the religious expert the story of the “certain man” who was beaten up and left for dead. And how three people who came by this man responded – or failed to respond - to his obvious need for help.

After telling the story, Jesus had one more question for the religious expert: “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among robbers?” The answer of the religious expert, which was “the one who showed him mercy”, is not hard to understand as we read the parable.

Jesus wanted the religious expert – and all of us who read this parable – to move beyond simply knowing the right answer to the question of “who is my neighbor?” – to actually caring for those to whom Jesus would call us to be a neighbor. One Bible scholar said that our neighbor is “someone with a legitimate need with which you emotionally connect, and which is within your capacity to address”. That definition helps me to look at anyone in need with a different set of lenses. Here is what one Bible commentary shares about this parable:

“Most people do not mind serving others from time to time. If it is convenient, if it fits into the schedule for the day, if the one in need is part of our circle of friends, or if the kindness is reciprocated. Any of those things can create an environment that makes serving rather easy. But what if the service is inconvenient, an interruption, costly in time and resources, without chance of reciprocation, or, above all, rendered to someone to whom we would not normally give the time of day? Jesus reminds us, in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, that the latter kind of service best characterizes those who belong to His Kingdom”. (Source: Discover God Study Bible - Luke 10)

As I re-read those words this afternoon, the Lord reminded me that my “closest neighbor” is my wife, Shawn. The Lord then asked me a question: “How are you doing, Glen, at serving your wife, Shawn - when it is not convenient, when it does not fit your schedule, or when you know your service will likely not be reciprocated?” I felt the sting of the Spirit’s conviction over my sinning against my closest neighbor in this way.

The commentator was right - serving my neighbor, whoever that is, is much easier when that service fits into my comfort, schedule, and capacity. I truly thank the Lord for His forgiveness as I confess my sinful selfishness. And also thank the Lord for His Spirit that empowers me to walk differently into my next opportunity to be a neighbor to Shawn.

How are you doing with serving your spouse? Are you being a good neighbor to your spouse when they have a need, or just when it fits into your plans and bandwidth? Take an honest assessment of this with the Lord, and then respond however the Holy Spirit directs you. Let’s be men and women who rightly reflect a heart for the Lord’s Kingdom by joyfully and consistently loving our spouse!

Prayer: Lord, help me to serve my spouse from a heart of self-sacrifice. Lord help me to never forget that my loving of my spouse must be an overflow out of my love for You. Finally, help me remember that my spouse is a good gift from You - the One who is the Giver of every good gift we have! Thank You, Lord!

Written by Glen Solberg, Abiding Marriage, 2023. Send comments or questions to

Source: (1) Discover God Bible – Luke Chapter 10.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash


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