Love Your Neighbor


A DOSE OF FAITH

Richard G. Mendoza, MPH, PHD

Pr. Richard Mendoza works at the Central Luzon Conference of Seventh-day Adventist. An educator and promoter of health, he complements his advocacies with spiritual and values-oriented insights.

For comments, chardgrace@yahoo.com


“Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” (Luke 10:36, 37 ESV). The parable of Jesus about the good Samaritan, is one of the best examples of how to care for the needy. This is love in action, an intentional way to help, without any selfish motive like being praised or compensated in return, or worse, benefit financially from the good deeds. While others are motivated by their sense of duty and obligation, the injunction is for us to help our neighbor/the needy, out of love!

The recent Taal Volcano eruption, has once again showed the “good Samaritan spirit” among Filipinos. Help was immediately extended to those who were affected, to the extent that some even died while doing relief efforts. Companies, foundations, governments of other countries, even individuals of different nationalities, each has done his/her share, extending donations and contributions.

The Bible commands us to do works of kindness, mercy and compassion, not only in times of calamities but anytime our neighbors are in need, “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?” (Isaiah 58:7)

Don’t expect anything in return, but yes; your good deeds will be rewarded! “Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am. ’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” (Isaiah 58;8,9)

Furthermore, in loving and caring for the needy we are to take some kind of action, with resolve. We decide, we plan, we act, and we do. It is intentional and not just an accident. Everything should be done properly, because our Lord is a “God of order”.

God has given instructions to His people, even during the Old Testament times on how to help the needy, here’s an example; “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:9,10 ESV) The right of the poor in Israel to glean after reapers, as well as to the un-reaped corners of the field, was secured by a positive statute; and this, in addition to other enactments connected with the ceremonial law, formed a beneficial provision for their support. At the same time, proprietors were not obliged to admit them into the field until the grain had been carried off the field; and they seem also to have been left at liberty to choose the poor whom they deemed the most deserving or needful. (Ruth 2:2, 8)

This was the earliest law for the benefit of the poor that we read of in the code of any people; and it combined in admirable union the obligation of a public duty with the exercise of private and voluntary benevolence at a time when the hearts of the rich would be strongly inclined to liberality. They should leave the gleanings of their harvest and vintage for the poor.

Works of piety must be always attended with works of charity, according to our ability. We must not be covetous, griping, and greedy of everything we can lay claim to, nor insist upon our right in all things. Remember “to whom much is given, of him, much shall be required.” (Luke 12:48)

Finally, when judgment time comes, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. ’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? ’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me. ’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me. ’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you? ’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me. ’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:36-41 ESV)

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