“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and
with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
My family moved to where we currently live almost two years ago. We bought a house in a wooded, secluded area of the private lake community where we chose to live. (That’s our road in the photo.) The lone neighbor who’s roof we can see from our house is an older single man. We met one family that lives up a different road. Their kids used to wait for the bus with ours. Their situation is that the mom is the bread winner and the dad stays at home. Otherwise, I look around my house, and aside from hugging a tree or throwing bread out for the wildlife, don’t see many opportunities to be a neighbor in the “I live next to you” way.
I could sit at home and think that since I have to take a brisk walk to encounter neighbors, or since many houses here are just summer cottages for people, that I somehow don’t have to follow a command to love my neighbors. That would be wrong.
Who are our “neighbors”?
Our neighbors are all the people we encounter during a day, whether we see them often or just once. It could be someone in a store, your mailman, or parents whose kids are in the same activities as your kids. I’m part of MOPS; I’m part of a home Bible study; I’m a member of our YMCA; I serve in ministry at our church; I’m involved in the kids’ school; and my kids are in extracurricular activities. I’ve had many opportunities to meet people and be a “neighbor.”
What does being a neighbor look like?
There are endless ways to love others. Each day, we can ask God what we can do for Him, being His hands and feet to others. We can make it our mission to not go through a day without increasing someone else’s joy, or to leave others feeling better than before we encountered them. Something joyfully amazing happens in our hearts when we take our eyes off ourselves and when we give.
If there’s someone in your path who has a need, whether to be encouraged, listened to, or even financial, we need to try to do what we can. We could hold a door, help with groceries, give a compliment, leave a good tip, pray, take someone a meal, watch someone’s kids, or shovel a driveway.
We can always be on the lookout for ways to be a good neighbor to those we live our lives around. Sometimes it may be spontaneous, and other times you might pre-plan certain acts of kindness.
“So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us,
let us do good [morally] to all people…”
Joyce Meyer, in her awesome book, The Love Revolution, gives a list of some of the ways the Bible says our attitudes can and should be toward one another. (Think of the great Bible stories of the good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37, and of Jesus meeting the woman at the well, John 4:1-42. They embody these principles.)
- Watch over one another
- Pray for one another
- Be mindful to be a blessing
- Be friendly and hospitable
- Be patient with one another
- Bear with others’ faults and weaknesses
- Give others the benefit of the doubt
- Comfort and encourage one another
- Be faithful and loyal
- Consider and prefer others
For those who want to do more, like my spontaneous friend I wrote about, to reach out to invite neighbors to coffee and love them well, check out The Neighborhood Café. This is an awesome ministry I recently came across, with a plan and a purpose to love your neighbors. Many times in our keep-to-ourselves society today, we go for years living near people without even knowing their names. It’s a shame and not how we’re called to live.
Here’s our model: 1. Look UP (to love God and draw our needs from Him); 2. Look OUT (to love others); 3. Look IN (to notice the transformation and joy in our hearts).
In the words of Mr. Rogers, “It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, A beautiful day for a neighbor, Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won’t you be my neighbor?”
© 2015, Kristen Hamilton. All rights reserved. Love it? Please share, pin, tweet or email but do not use my work without permission.