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Who Is My Neighbor?

In Leviticus 18:1-5; 19:9-18, we hear that “when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I AM the LORD your God.” And in Luke 10:25-37, we have Jesus telling a lawyer the story of the Good Samaritan who helped the wounded man on the road.

That brings up the question for us of “Who is my neighbor”?

We have all seen the men and women with a sign asking for food, sitting on the corner, at the entry to the supermarket, near the fast food restaurant. Are they really a neighbor? Are they truly hungry?

It is so hard to know. Yes, there are homeless people. There are people who have missed meals. Some of them even have children or pets with them.

And yet, there are people who play the “pity” card. There have been articles that show some of these folks are gleaning $50,000 to $60,000 a year getting money from others. They may be the exception according to some studies.

Yes, there are people who fall through the cracks in our social services system. There are those who are ex-convicts that have trouble finding jobs. There are people with physical or mental health issues that make it difficult to get or keep a job. There are drug addicts who want money for their next “fix”.

How do you tell the difference between those who are truly needy and those who are just looking for a “quick” buck?

What, as Christians, are we called to do?

God calls us to be wise stewards of the gifts He has given us. What is a good steward? Someone who does not waste the gifts and talents given but uses discernment in using those gifts and talents wisely to the glory of God.

Being a wise steward could be purchasing an additional meal or sandwich for the one who is asking for money. Those who are truly needy will take the sandwich or meal and be appreciative of the meal. Those who are just looking for the cash will turn down the food, and not be very kind about it.

Be discerning when approached by someone asking for help. Helping our neighbor is appropriate. So is being a good steward.

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What Do We Know About the Bible?

We know that it was written over the course of several hundred years, starting with Moses. We know that archaeology, history, science and philosophy have shown the Bible to be factual and consistent. We know that many of the people writing in the New Testament were with Jesus during the time of His ministry, and that the timeline in the Gospels, which were written by different people, is consistent between the four of them.

We know from Paul’s letter to the Galatians and Revelation given to John that people adding to or subtracting from the Bible are not going to fare well. According to Paul, those preaching a different gospel than the one taught by Jesus himself will be accursed. (Gal 1:1-12) In Revelation, anyone who adds to the book will suffer plagues, and anyone who takes away from the book will lose his share in the tree of life and the holy city. (Rev 22:12-20)

We hear the history of the world and the promise of the Savior’s coming in the Old Testament. God created the earth in the beginning. After the fall into sin with Adam and Eve, we are given a promise of a great sacrifice when Abraham is commanded to place his only son on the altar. Because of his great faith, God blesses Abraham and spares his son. A lamb is provided for the sacrifice.

Throughout the Old Testament we read of great men and women of God. People who risked their lives to proclaim the glory of God, to rebuke those who had fallen away, and to proclaim God’s goodness and mercy to all. We read of the coming of the Savior as a little child.

The New Testament starts with the story of the birth of Jesus. Imagine how hard that was for both Mary and Joseph. And yet, that same story is written by two different men who were not working on their books at the same time.

Jesus taught his Apostles and the crowds of people about God and what was to come with his own death and resurrection. He traveled throughout the country telling the people of what was to come.

After His death and resurrection, the Apostles started teaching in His place. They were now going outside the familiar country to places such as Rome, Galatia, and Corinth. Because they were not staying in one place to teach, it became important for the Apostles to start sending letters back to the congregations in the different areas. These letters were then copied for posterity. Looking at these letters and trying to decipher them, it was found that there were minimal errors in them, and those errors did not change the context of the writing.

Archaeology has shown that places mentioned in the Bible really did exist. Various countries and cities talked about in Luke have been verified as having existed in the time frame listed in his Gospel.

Having been proven to be historically accurate through various scientific methods as well as having been able to look at early copies of the writings, it is a reasonable conclusion that the prophecies in the Book of Revelation are also accurate. These prophecies detail the end of the old earth and the coming of the new heaven and the new earth.

Whether you read the Bible purely as a history, or to better communicate with God and grow closer to Him, or for the prophecy, it is good to read it. Read it, ponder it, journal it.   


References: The Lutheran Study Bible; www.gotquestions.org; www.everystudent.com

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