Howdy, Neighbor – Today’s Youth Devotion

Howdy, Neighbor

Bible Reading: Luke 10:25-37

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.” And, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27

TRAVIS AND KYLE walked home from school together almost every day, stopping at the MinuteMart to buy a soda. And after Travis finished his soda, he tossed the empty paper cup on someone’s lawn-unless he was in front of the Cooks’ house, which was next door to his. Kyle couldn’t figure this out. He finally asked, “How come you throw your cups on anybody’s lawn but the Cooks’?”

“Because,” Travis answered, “we’re supposed to love our neighbors, and the Cooks are my next-door neighbors. The other people aren’t my neighbors, so I don’t care if I leave stuff in their yards.”

Travis is a few ounces short of a supersized soda. Jesus made it clear that the command to love your neighbor (see Matthew 22:39) isn’t limited to the person who actually lives next door. When Jesus was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” he told the parable of the Good Samaritan, who showed love toward a man mugged by bandits (see Luke 10:29-37). The story clearly illustrates that neighbors aren’t just people in certain classes, geographical locations, or socio-economic levels. Neighbors are peo­ple in need-whoever and wherever they may be.

Jesus’ command for believers to love everyone wasn’t new. Old Testament Jews knew about God’s love for all people and his desire that they love as he loved. Moses, not Jesus, was the first to write God’s words, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Levit­icus 19:18). God commanded Israel to show loving concern not only for those of their own kind but also for the poor and strangers (see Leviticus 19 :9-10) and to seek peace with their enemies whenever possible (see Deuteronomy 20:10-12). God’s invitation permeates the Old Testament: “Love people-all people-as I do.”

In the New Testament, God’s love is offered to all people. Christ died for the whole world (see John 3: 16), and God intends for believers to share the good news of salvation with “all the nations” (Matthew 28:19).

So don’t limit your love to people like you or people you like. Jesus instructed, “Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Pray for the happiness of those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you” (Luke 6:27-28). He left no loopholes in the love command. You get to love all people for Christ’s sake, because everyone is your neighbor.

REFLECT: Have you ever limited your love to people right around you? How can you stretch your love wider?

PRAY: Lord, teach me to love all people-not just the ones I like.