Jesus said you must love your neighbour as you love yourself (Matthew 22:39). Firstly, what does it mean to love yourself? I am sure this does not mean an egotistical, boasting type of love, but more to be self accepting and confident and to be yourself. And then, what does it mean to love a neighbour? Jesus gave the example of the good Samaritan (read blog article: The Samaritan Who Helped a Stranger), a story of a Jewish person who lay injured at the side of the road and who was ignored by a few people who passed him by, someone even crossing over to the other side of the road to avoid dealing with the problem in front of him, until a Samaritan came along, and he happened to be a person of another race. The Samaritan did all he could to help the injured man; he transported him to an inn on his donkey and paid for his board and lodging until the person was fully healed. Jesus could have used the example of any other person and any other race; He happened to use the example of a Samaritan, probably as there was division between Jewish people and Samaritan people in those days and the two types of people usually avoided any contact with each other.
Jesus used this example of the Samaritan helping a total stranger to show us what love is. Unconditional love. The Samaritan did not ask for anything in return. He did not want the injured stranger to repay him. He did not check to see if the man deserved his help first and was of good character. He merely saw that the injured man needed help and he gave him the help that he could. Did you notice that the Samaritan person did not attempt to keep in contact with the injured person afterwards? There was no emotional connection, merely compassion for someone who was injured and he helped him until he no longer needed assistance and then the Samaritan was on his way.
Unconditional love. Unconditional acceptance. How does this translate to modern society? Imagine seeing someone who is homeless--do you offer the person a room at your house until the person finds a job? It is a difficult question because of the world we currently live in and the many horror stories one might hear of kindness being repaid with harm, so one does need to be careful as you know nothing of the person and whether or not the person presents a danger, though I have heard amazing stories of people doing such kind acts. Perhaps you might offer a place to stay if you own a vacant rental property, for example. There are risks involved when you deal with strangers on a personal level and I would suggest instead that someone who is homeless is put into contact with an organisation who could help (hopefully there is an organisation available in the country concerned). I am a big believer in ensuring charities exist who can help all people, regardless of plight.
How might you help, personally? Imagine if you see someone in need, perhaps someone new to your church or community, and you give the person your time to listen? You do not need to befriend the person, though of course the person may be searching for friends and might perceive your kindness as friendship. To avoid becoming tangled in a friendship you may not want, even though you would like to help, it is important to state your boundaries up front. You may say, I am here to listen if you need someone to talk to and I will meet with you if you would like some of my time, but I cannot be friends with you as I am struggling as it is to keep up with my current relationships.
Does this sound harsh? I believe it is best to be honest and this may avoid problems later if the person becomes demanding. Remember, you know nothing about the person. Perhaps the person won't become a nuisance, but perhaps the person might. This is akin to counselling. I believe professional healing relationships work because of the perceived unconditional acceptance of the relationship. If you go for counselling, you meet with someone who is a total stranger at first and is someone who listens to you and who you begin to feel really understands and accepts you as you are. The counsellor does not judge you, but many counsellors may offer advice and will also tell you if your behaviour is unacceptable, for example, if you try to phone at 2am in the morning you will find the counsellor will not respond and may chat with you later to tell you which hours are acceptable hours to phone. In such healing relationships, manipulative behaviour has no place and such behaviour is usually dropped in favour of a genuine transactional relationship. The relationship is time bound, until the counsellor sees you no longer need therapy. You may grieve the loss of your counsellor, but the person is usually available again if you feel you need to return to therapy, unless of course the counsellor has moved on, as people do in life.
Think of God.; God gives unconditional love and acceptance. Isn't this the most powerful healing relationship there is? God will not accept your bad behaviour and will guide you to change, but He will always accept you.