Like a certain lawyer we need to ask ourselves, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus told him the story of a good Samaritan who helped a man lying on the road after he was robbed. He tended to his wounds and took him to an innkeeper. He offered to repay whatever was spent to care for the hurt stranger. This story made the lawyer realize that a neighbor is one who shows mercy.
Neighbor in this context goes beyond the person living nearby. It is the homeless person you give a warm blanket to or buy a cup of hot tea or chocolate and a sandwich. It is the troubled teen you help. It is the elderly person you give your seat to or the blind person you offer your arm to.
Paul wrote in Romans 13:8-10: “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
It makes sense that if you love others as you ought, you would not do anything to hurt them. It would never occur to you to cross that line and have an affair with your boss’s wife or your sister’s husband. You would never dream of taking another’s life. You wouldn’t take what does not belong to you or tell lies about someone else. You wouldn’t want what someone else has. You would not gossip or tell lies about people. When you choose love over envy, lust, dishonesty, etc, you would be fulfilling God’s law which Jesus summed up in two commandments–love God and love your neighbor.
If you love others like you love yourself, you would not do them any harm. You would treat them as you want to be treated. Always put yourself in the other person’s shoes. And always think of God and what His word says. Joseph was not willing to hurt Potiphar by sleeping with his wife or to sin against God by breaking His law which prohibits adultery. Bottom line: We treat our neighbors as we would like to be treated.