Love your neighbor as yourself works best when your neighbor is defined rather broadly.  That’s the whole point in the tale of the Good Samaritan.  The Samaritan wasn’t of the same culture.  He didn’t live next door or, most likely, in the same neighborhood.  In fact, he could actually get in trouble for helping the man who was in distress.

Remember “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”?  If the Samaritan tried to help and the man died, his family would probably take revenge on the Samaritan.  After all, wasn’t he the last person seen with the victim?  The Samaritan could take shelter in a city of refuge, but his family would still be at risk, because the victim’s family could seek revenge against a son, brother or nephew.

Still, the Samaritan helped.  And he wasn’t just an anonymous helper on the side of the road.  He took the victim to an inn, spoke to the innkeeper and sacrificed his anonymity.

The Samaritan didn’t say, “He looks different.  He worships different.  I don’t even know him.”  He looked at a man in need and saw his neighbor.  Just a little something to think about.

–SueBE

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