Who Is Our Neighbor?

Recently I was asked a question: “Who is our neighbor and who are we to help.” What about a religious denomination that doesn’t believe Christ is the Son of God? There is a difference between helping a denomination and helping a person who may not believe Christ is who He says He is. If you have a particular skill and a charity wants you to donate your time to helping them with a particular project, should you feel obligated from a Scriptural standpoint to perform? Whether you help them or not may be a personal choice. Whether you are obligated to help them or not I believe the answer would be no.

Let’s pursue the question further. First, I may not be qualified to answer who our neighbors are according to Scripture. I have been a store manager for 23 years. I have dealt with shoplifters, liars, scam artists and those who would change price tags to get a lower price. I have had customers demand free repairs on washers that were sold four years previously. My staff included five security personnel to watch both customers and employees. I don’t always believe statistics but have been told over the years that at least 25% of employees were stealing.

I am sure my heart is not as tender as I would like. It has left me a little skeptical as to who my neighbor may be. But should we give God’s money to a charity that practices anti-Christian principles? The following Scripture gives me guidance:

I John 4:1 – 6 – “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.  You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.”

The apostle John states that there are many who do not believe Jesus is the Son of God. He says they have the spirit of the antichrist. He also tells us it is our responsibility to test whoever we meet or whatever we read or hear; and does it correspond with Scripture?

So what does Scripture tells us about those in need? What about the person standing on the island as cars are stopped at a red light with a sign asking for money, what is our responsibility? Or, maybe the person that meets you in the parking lot asking for a few dollars? Just what is our obligation as a Christian? There are many charities that help these people yet; they are unwilling to get that help. For years the “Mission” down town has fed and helped people. However, they must listen to Christian music and a sermon prior to getting help. Many, being of the world, are opposed to God and will not take the time or make the effort. They are more inclined to make us feel guilty if we don’t meet their need.

Our church has a ministry to feed the homeless which I support 100 percent. Over the years we have seen a few obtain salvation and every soul is worth our effort. I believe there is a difference between a group from the church helping than an individual Christian enabling those that are able to obtain help from qualified agencies that know how to handle these situations.

By now you may have guessed I do not see them as my neighbor. Before you think my heart is black and as hard as shoe leather, there have been times I have felt led to give. But yesterday when I was confronted by a man I was led to just say no!

My neighbor is any Holy Spirit filled believer that believes Christ is who He says He is. But there are people who are of this world that I want to become my neighbor by accepting Christ into their heart.

However, each person must make their own decisions when it comes to who we are to help. If we hear an inner voice from the Holy Spirit we had better obey!

Matthew 5:44 – “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” An entirely different subject!

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2 Comments

  1. Lu Bowen

     /  August 19, 2009

    Another great blog to think about! I sometimes ask myself the motive behind why I am or am not serving someone. It helps me weed out if I am “people pleasing” or guilt based, a wound that hasn’t healed or just plain laziness. It helps me to respond back to God and put my heart in check. Ultimately it is the Holy Spirit that says “give or not to give”. I think it is hard for people to think of Christians of saying “No”. In some cases, that “No” may be the very thing God needs for the recipient of that word to learn something. The same goes for a “Yes”. Grace baffles people’s idea of humanity. Sometimes I say “yes” and sometimes I say “No”. Sometimes I give money, sometimes food, sometimes my time. All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. Choose wisely.

    Reply
    • donaldboyd

       /  August 19, 2009

      I needed to know how this might be received. I hope guilt is not our motivator. We must choose carefully who we serve or help.

      Reply

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