"You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:39)

The Lord asks us to consider our neighbor's needs and act with charity in all that we do. To be genuine, charity calls for acts of love and kindness but also goes much deeper. The Heavenly Doctrine for the New Church has many teachings about how to bring charity into our lives more fully. They tell us that charity is from the Lord alone. He inspires us to love and serve our neighbors. And they describe who our neighbors are and how we can best care for them.

The story of the Good Samaritan is a powerful parable of love and charity. We see the mercy and compassion of the Samaritan, giving loving care to someone in need. We hope these materials will inspire you with new ways of thinking and responding to the Lord's call to "love your neighbor as yourself."  

Highlights for this topic include

  Charity Is... (PDF)
What does the Lord teach us in His Word about true charity? Here is a page of selected quotes to help you reflect on this and perhaps discuss

What Is Charity? an article by the Rt. Rev. Peter M. Buss, Sr.
"Charity, or love to the neighbor, is not primarily some good act we do. It's what we are; it's a quality of person that we become; it's something deep inside us, which comes from the power of the Lord of love."

The Test of Love by the Rev. Daniel Goodenough
Love is the supreme virtue. But what is the test of true love - how can we know if we are truly loving? "Love, unless it becomes deed, ceases to be love. If you don't do something about it, you don't really love, no matter how full of good feelings you sometimes are."

 Secret Angels (PDF)
How do we get started on doing good things for the neighbor? Being a secret angel is one way to practice being charitable. After choosing a name out of a hat, these "angels" secretly look for ways to help that person and do good things for them.

  Play: The Good Samaritan (PDF)

  Activity: Smoothing Out Problems with the Neighbor (PDF)
Here is an activity that might help us to refrain from hurting a person we don’t like in thought, word, or deed.

  Project: Winter to Spring (PDF)
Draw a winter landscape then make a spring landscape on tracing paper or acetate that can be placed over it. One pictures believing in the Lord while the other pictures both believing in Him and doing the good things. It is like springtime when light and warmth make all of nature "come to life" again.

Overview of Projects and Activities for Families

  Sunday School Lesson on the Good Samaritan (PDF)
A lesson for children ages 4-6, suggested activities include a simple dramatization of the parable, taking turns being the Good Samaritan who bandages the wounded man, and a paper doll (wounded man) project which allows each child to be the Good Samaritan and apply bandages (strips of cloth).

  Pass It On... (PDF)
People sometimes want to repay someone who has helped them by doing something kind for them. Instead, they may be told to look for opportunities to help someone else, passing on the favor. When a person does something nice for you, try to pass on the favor (a similar or different one) to someone else. You might also want to try writing a story with this theme.