This word is as prophetic as it gets... why?
Let this recent article by Ryan Bruss sink in deeply as you "Go"! (To Subscribe to the Elijah List subscribe here.)
Who is my neighbor? And where do I find these beautiful people? I believe that Jesus brilliantly answered the "who is my neighbor" question in Luke 10:25-37.
The certain lawyer in this story was some sort of teacher or expert in the law, and he stood up to test Jesus. He asked the most important question a man or woman could ever ask in this life: "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?"
Jesus totally set this teacher up by answering his question with a question. Always remember that when Jesus is asking you a question, He's not looking for information. Think about that for a moment.
This expert in the law went on to quote, from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18, the two greatest commandments in the Word of God: "'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'" (Luke 10:27).
Everything in life and ministry flows from these two verses. Everything. And notice how both of these commandments are united by one, main theme – love. We must learn, as never before, in this hour to keep the first commandment in its first place. This greatest commandment should be our heart's passion morning, noon, night and "midnight snack"!
When we fall in love with Jesus, I mean really fall in love with Jesus, it turns our whole lives upside down and inside out.
So, friends, if you do anything in life well, do this well: love Him with everything. A heart that is abundantly satisfied in Him and that enjoys the pleasures of knowing and loving God – that heart will never be shaken.
Now, loving our neighbor is not the greatest commandment, but it is second, and second on the Father's list is very, very important.
"He who does not love does not know God, for God is love." (1 John 4:8)
Why and How Are We to Love Our Neighbor?
Why are we to love our neighbor? We are to love our neighbor because we love what Jesus loves, and He loves the rich, the poor, the dirty, the broken, those who have fallen into sin, the successful, the homeless, those on death row, those who have been battered by life – everyone. (Photo via Pixabay)
You see, we hold the ability to love our neighbor. We have the power and ability through Jesus to choose to love. I was once talking to the Lord about someone I found difficult to love. I asked Jesus, "How should I love _______?" He replied quickly and tenderly, "As I have loved you." Enough said.
If we do the first commandment well, it will automatically spill over into the second commandment. For when we love Him with all of our hearts, He pours out His love back to us. This radically changes us from the inside out and therefore it gives us a love for others and ourselves.
"Love your neighbor as yourself." Did you catch that? I love me because He loves me. Even with all of my weaknesses and shortcomings. The stronger this identity is solidified within me, the greater the ability for me to love my neighbor.
"As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love...This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." (John 15:9, 12)
Our self-worth is not be defined by our mistakes, how we were raised or by the opinions of others. Jesus settled the issue of our worth by walking the terrible and joyful journey to the Cross for you and me. Our worth is defined by His everlasting and overwhelming love for us, every moment of every day. When we keep ourselves in the love of God, it gives us the right perspective on how He feels about us and others. Abide continually in His love, dear ones.
Try as you might, you will not authentically love your neighbor more than you feel loved by God. So many people struggle with loving others because they struggle with loving themselves. We love God well when we learn to love what He loves – our neighbor. You see, love makes you my neighbor. Don't think of it this way: "You are my neighbor and therefore Jesus says I have to love you." No. Rather, "I love you, therefore you are my neighbor." We have not lived well if we have not loved well.
The Samaritan Who Loved
When God called us to love our neighbors as ourselves, you know He meant that. Think of the man who was beat up in our story. The Samaritan loved and cared for him the same way he would have wanted to be loved and cared for. However, the expert in law wanted to justify himself and asked Jesus, "Who is my neighbor"? In essence, he was like, "Jesus, define neighbor for me. What do You really mean by 'neighbor'?" He was looking for a way out by asking who his neighbor was.
Who do you think your neighbor is? This parable does not tell us in form who our neighbor is, but this parable does show us how true love is supposed to work in the Kingdom.
When it comes to those we are to love, I realize that some people are more difficult to love than others. Especially those who have wronged us. People can be so ungrateful, rude, selfish, prideful, bitter, angry, ungodly, etc. And then there are those who don't even believe in God (I hope you caught that). (Photo via Unsplash)
"Then Jesus answered and said: 'A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead'" (Luke 10:30). This just sounds like the enemy who comes to steal, kill, and destroy (see John 10:10).
Many people you meet each day feel "half dead" on the inside. They may have lost their homes, their jobs, fallen into sin, become brokenhearted; they may be hurting, suicidal, grieving, hopeless, etc. And they walk around day after day feeling "half dead" within their hearts.
Your neighbor can be your literal neighbor and it can also be those in church, at work, strangers you meet, and even those in your own home. As a pastor I have seen people who want to change the world and at home their spouse is "half dead" emotionally. Friend, this cannot happen.
There are many people in the Church today who are a success at work, a success at church, and even a success at recreational activities. They seem to help everyone around them, but at home their wife is "lying on the side of the road half dead" emotionally, and they have passed her by like the religious priest and Levine. You cannot be a "neighbor" to everyone else and neglect your wife and children (or your husband and children). This is hypocrisy.
Listen, this man lying on the side of the road may have been doing something that he was not supposed to be doing. He may have been a thief himself. He may have been looking for a prostitute. Does that disqualify him from your love? Does that disqualify him from being your neighbor? Certainly not! Love is not selective.
Now, by chance, a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. The priest and the Levine in this story knew the law but when it came time to live it out, they failed miserably. They didn't know the law of love. We see throughout the Gospels how the priests, the scribes, the Pharisees, the teachers of the law and the religious didn't get it. They did not live out the two greatest commandments that they were supposed to know so well; the commandments which clearly say that love must come first.
The special duty of the priest was to offer sacrifices at the temple, to present incense, to conduct the morning and evening services of the temple, etc. But he passed by on the other side, maybe unconsciously trying to get as far away from the responsibility of love as he could. The priest did not even have the heart to at least check on him. And again, he was a priest. It's amazing how many excuses we come up with when the greatest thing we can do at the moment is love. The priest was too busy with religion and himself.
"Likewise a Levine, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side." (Luke 10:32)
The Levies' duties were to assist the priests in their services. They took care of the temple, keeping it clean, preparing supplies for the sanctuary such as the oil, incense, etc. This Levine looked more intently at the man than the priest, but also did not have enough love for him to do anything about his misery. Love is not selfish.
"But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion." (Luke 10:33)
There was real hostility between the Jews and Samaritans. The Samaritans were looked down upon. They had no dealings with each other. It doesn't say that the man lying there was a Jew. Maybe he was? Jesus does not tell us because it does not matter!
Through the years, people have labeled this story as "The Good Samaritan." But this Samaritan was good before this event happened. He did not have or need a supernatural anointing or a word from God to help this person. Love compelled him. This man lying there was his neighbor because he loved people.
Again, maybe this man lying there was up to no good. Maybe he owed the thieves money. Maybe he was also a thief. Maybe he was a nasty, hateful person who was full of pride. Maybe he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Whatever the case may be, the Samaritan didn't first try to determine if he was worth helping. He simply had love and compassion. And a moment of kindness and compassion can be worth a lifetime of hope for a hurting heart.
Oil and Wine in Abundance
"So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him." (Luke 10:34)
I absolutely love this verse. What love! He poured on the oil and the wine, freely giving it. It sounds like what we read in Isaiah 61:1-3:
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has send Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified." (Photo via Pixabay)
The oil and wine that the Samaritan man had were his for his own enjoyment and refreshment. Oil and wine were often used in medicine to heal wounds. You also have oil and wine for your neighbors in abundance as you spend time with Jesus.
Jesus doesn't merely say that the Samaritan showed kindness to the broken man, but He details the compassionate, caring heart that he had for him.
The wine represents the blood, forgiveness, cleansing, and healing, no matter what you've done. Again, this could be someone in your own household, in your church, at work, or next door. The oil represents the refreshing, fragrant, comforting heart of the Holy Spirit. Doesn't that sound so wonderful?
We must live in abundance ourselves to be able to give it out to the world around us – our neighbors. If you barely have enough oil and wine for yourself (from lack of the first commandment), how are you going to do the second commandment well? Don't just pour out the oil and wine to others and not keep yourself filled up. Have oil and wine in abundance and it will simply overflow to your neighbors. You will meet people on a regular basis who God is wanting to pour in the oil and the wine, and you will find great joy in doing this as it's done from the heart of God.
The Samaritan put the man on his own animal and brought him to the inn. He was going all the way with this! I believe that the inn here can represent the Church, and not just any old, traditional, religious church, but a Church that has the same heart as the Samaritan. When the Church is living in its destiny, it's ministering to the broken, wounded and dying of the world, and not passing them by on the other side of the road.
"On the next day, when he departed, he took out two Devanagari, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.'" (Luke 10:35)
The Samaritan spent the night with the wounded man, caring for him. This is a forgotten principle in our churches today. The privileged act of praying and pressing through for and with someone. So you lose a little sleep on a particular night, but you contended for your spouse in prayer; or your kids, your boss, your unsaved loved ones, etc. Love must be demonstrated not just in words but in actions. The Samaritan even gave of his money. When it comes to loving our neighbors, we may have to help financially. What's wrong with that? Remember, it's not about deserving, it's about love, and in Heaven there is much reward for love. (Photo via Pixabay)
"Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." (Luke 6:38)
Loving your neighbor may cost you time, money and energy. Some people are easier to pour the oil and wine into and some are more difficult. Some wounds heal easily and some take a long time. This will show the extent of our love. Remember that Jesus never gave up on us (while we were yet sinners – see Romans 5:8). He freely paid the full price for us.
"'So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?' And he said, 'He who showed mercy on him.' Then Jesus said to him, 'Go and do likewise.'" (Luke 10:36-37)
I think this teacher of the law was starting to get it.
Who is your neighbor? Wherever there is love, you will find your neighbor.
One of the greatest passions of my life is to teach people how to live daily in the Father's love and embrace. It's learning to keep the first and greatest commandment first place in our lives.
Today, ask the Father to remove everything in your life that is hindering wholehearted love. Ask Him to help you live out the first commandment like never before. Ask Him to fill you with His amazing love and then...just receive it! I pray that His love captivates every area of your life today. When you do this, you will have "oil and wine" overflowing in your life for you and for others.
In this word, you learned who your neighbor really is. Again, it could be your literal neighbor or someone at work, church, or even within your own home. Ask the Holy Spirit if there is someone today you can pour in a little "oil and wine" to minister to their hurting heart. It could mean that you simply tell someone that they are loved. It may be that today the Holy Spirit is highlighting someone for you to buy a cup of coffee or a meal for just to hear their heart so they feel loved. Remember, this is not about bringing the Kingdom to people who may "deserve" it or not, but learning to love your neighbor. (To Subscribe to the Elijah List subscribe here.)
Revive International was founded to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations of the world. Ryan Bruss has had the privilege of traveling to many countries seeing people saved, healed, and delivered! With a passion for revival and the Father heart of God, Ryan has seen the power of God displayed in salvations, prophecy, and miracles from house churches to open-air meetings. Besides traveling to minister, Ryan, along with an amazing group of passionate Believers, pastors a house church in Charlotte, North Carolina called Antioch Charlotte. Ryan and his beautiful wife Megan have been married for over 20 years and they have two wonderful teenagers, Elianna and Andrew.
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