“What is Written? How Do You Read It?”

by Doy Moyer

“And (the lawyer) answered, “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.” And (Jesus) said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” (Luke 10:27-28)

Understanding what Scripture says is one thing; commitment to doing what Scripture says is another. Understanding does not necessarily entail faithfulness. The lawyer sought for an out. “He, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘Who is my neighbor?’”

This is what we tend to do. We squabble about who the neighbors are. We find ways to say that while we agree with what is written, we do not practically know how to apply it. But is this really being honest?

In response to the lawyer’s question, Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan. Really, the parable is not as much about the need to show compassion as it is about the need to be honest with the text and committed to doing what it says. Yes, compassion is vital, but the lawyer wasn’t being honest in his applications. Who was the neighbor? The lawyer knew. We know.

The difficult part is this: how will you treat those with whom you want nothing to do? Would you be willing to pull them from a ditch and pay their expenses? What is written? “Love your neighbor as yourself.” How do you read that? The lawyer knew. We know. And Jesus continues to say, “You go, and do likewise.”