Introduction: In this lesson you will discover who the Bible says is your neighbor. As a practical model, you will take a close look at the example of the Good Samaritan. An in-depth study in friendship evangelism will conclude our study. In this lesson you will learn how to:
- Recognize your neighbor.
- Be a servant to others.
- Reach out to the lost.
I. Recognize your neighbor and your responsibility to him.
A. In the opening chapters of Genesis, Cain asks God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9) Cain expressed the heart of sinful man, which wants to ignore responsibility for anyone but those closest to him.
B. In the Old Testament, your “neighbor” included those who were like you, your family, and your close friends. Jonah was very angry with God when God showed mercy to the people of Nineveh. Jonah viewed them as enemies because they were not his fellow Israelites. (Jonah 3:1-4; 4)
C. In the New Testament, Jesus teaches that your “neighbor” includes those who are not like you and those who are not related to you. Their relationship to you as a “neighbor” is a moral one, not a physical one. It is not based on kinship but on the opportunity and capacity to help others.
D. In John 3:16, Jesus tells us that He became a missionary to the whole world, not to a select few. He also tells us that “as the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.” (John 20:2 1 NIV) You have a responsibility to reach out beyond your own circle of friends and across your borders. “And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8b NIV)
II. Become a servant to others, like the Good Samaritan did. (Luke 10:30-37)
A. See and feel the need (verse 30).
1. “Stripped him” – humiliation
2. “Beat him” – devastation (emotional and physical)
3. “Leaving him” – abandonment
B. Don’t be callous (verses 31, 32).
1. A priest saw him.
2. A Levite saw him.
C. Express your compassion (verse 33).
1. A Samaritan saw him.
2. “He felt compassion for him.”
3. It’s one thing to see but something quite different to see and feel.
a) Today many times people see much and feel little. We are a desensitized and emotionally calloused generation.
b) The Samaritan is referred to as being “good” because he loved a man whom his fellow countrymen considered as an enemy. He was not influenced by their potential rejection of his action.
D. Be willing to sacrifice (verses 34, 35).
1. First aid (body ministry) was administered.
2. Time and financial resources were made available. (I John 3:17).
E. Be a true neighbor (verse 36).
1. “Which of these three…proved to be a neighbor to the man?”…”The one who showed mercy.”
2. “Go and do the same” (verse 37, see also Romans 15:1).
III. Live a lifestyle of friendship evangelism.
A. Model the example of Jesus (WWJD?).
1. Jesus, the true Servant, lived to give of Himself to others.
a) He did not come to be served but to serve. (Mark 10:45)
b) Jesus commissioned His disciples to do the same. (Matthew 7, 8) The call of God upon my life is to live to give.
2. With Jesus, serving was not a stepping stone toward greatness; it was the measure of greatness.
a) Jesus was free to wash His disciples’ feet. (John 13:5)
b) Jesus served and loved so freely that He was able to bless His own betrayer (John 13:26) and even referred to him as His friend. (Matthew 26:47-50)
3. Jesus bids us, “Follow me.”
a) We’re to follow Jesus by loving and serving others.
b) We’re to love with our hearts and eyes, speak words of peace and reconciliation with our mouths, and reach out to others with our hands.
B. Overcome hindrances to friendship evangelism.
1. The fear of man
a) Your acceptance is based on your identity in Christ.
b) Fear of rejection can paralyze you. “What will he or she think of me?”
a) Your ego hates to suffer; it always prefers to be puffed up.
b) Rather than humbling yourself, you prefer silence and exclusion, and many times even isolation.
a) We do not want to spend the time and energy.
b) “But they smoke, drink, take drugs, and live promiscuously.”
c) There is a price to pay to gain the lost as one’s inheritance. (Psalm 2:8)
4. Misinterpretation of Scripture
a) “Love not the world, nor the things in the world.” (I John 2:15) This does not mean you should not love your fellowman.
b) “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy with them.” (John 17:13)
c) “The field is the world.” (Matthew 13:38)
C. Getting started in friendship evangelism
1. Carefully consider how you invest your time energy, and financial resources. Do your investments show that you are truly committed to winning the lost? Be honest!
2. Ask God for a friend, a lost person with whom you can establish a relationship.
3. As you enter appointments and other responsibilities in your daily schedule, plan times of involvement with unbelievers you are targeting for friendship. Remember, you want to establish friendships, not immediate converts. Conversion and discipleship are goals. Friendship is the way to enter into the hearts and lives of those we want to reach.
4. Express true friendship.
5. Be friendly.
6. Be committed.
7. Be loyal.
8. Don’t be overbearing (tactless). Allow space for a normal growth process.
9. Be natural in expressing your faith in Christ.
10. “A friend loves at all times.” (Proverbs 17:17) This verse expresses the heart of true friendship- unconditional love.