Written By: Pastor Dan
Have you ever wondered what you can learn from God’s Word about being a good neighbor?
It has plenty to say.
The secret of being a good neighbor is found in Luke 10:25-37. It’s the story about the Good Samaritan. In the story, Jesus was asked a question from an expert in religious law. The lawyer wanted to know what to do in order to inherit eternal life. In response, Jesus asked him, “What does Moses say to do?” The man replied by combining two scriptures from the Old Testament found in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18.
“The man answered, ‘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 (NLT)
Jesus said, “Exactly!”
In this devotional, we’ll explore what loving our neighbors unconditionally looks like.
Love Your Neighbors Equally
Who are our neighbors? We learn from the story of the Good Samaritan that the answer is: everyone. How are we to love everyone? Jesus taught us to show love when He said: “Do to others as you would like them to do to you.” Luke 6:31 (NLT)
I grew up in a middle-class neighborhood. My wife grew up surrounded by corporate CEOs, business owners and NFL players. Our neighborhoods seemed like two different worlds. It was intimidating.
However, I learned a valuable lesson while getting to know her neighbors. They were no different than the people I grew up with or the ones I help feed who live in shacks near the river. They celebrate the same joys and feel the same sorrows. We are all God’s children.
Our nature is to be jealous or judgmental, but James 2:8-9 cautions us to love everyone equally. “Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.” (NLT)
The easiest way to love others is to take James’ advice and treat others like we would want to be treated; without prejudice.
- Consider someone who is slightly different from you.Maybe they are richer or poorer.Maybe they are a different nationality or a different faith.Bridge the divide and ask them if there is anything you can help them with or pray about.
- Come up with three ideas of how you can reach out to neighbors in need.
Love Your Neighbors Gracefully
“We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord.” Romans 15:2 (NLT)
Have you ever considered what being a gracious neighbor looks like?
A neighbor down the street was landscaping his front yard using very large rocks. He asked to borrow one of my moving dollies to transport 200 pounds of those ornamental rocks around the yard. This same neighbor, right after we moved in, came to our home and flatly asked me not to share my faith with his family. Somehow, he’d found out I was a pastor.
Now, I had a choice to make. Loaning the dolly was a given. But which dolly? I had two. The cheaper, smaller one or the larger, more expensive one? Without hesitation, I loaned him the larger one that could easily get the job done. He brought it back a few days later bent and twisted from the weight of the rocks.
“Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone–especially to those in the family of faith.” Galatians 6:10 (NLT)
When my neighbor offered to buy me a new dolly, Paul’s advice came to mind, “Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone–especially to those in the family of faith.” Galatians 6:10 (NLT) I declined his offer, telling him that everything was fine. And it is. Now, when I use that bent and twisted dolly, it’s a reminder to keep loving my neighbors graciously.
- Do you have a neighbor you need to be gracious to?
- What are some ways you can build your neighbors up rather than tear them down?
Love Your Neighbors Intentionally
“Do not plan harm against your neighbor, for those who live nearby trust you.” Proverbs 3:29 (NLT)
Have you ever had a run-in with a neighbor and wondered, “How should I react to them?”
One Saturday night, my son and the worship band decided to use our garage to practice for the following morning’s service. A band member asked me, “The neighbor is throwing rocks at your garage door, pastor; what do we do?” It turns out our neighbor had been drinking and thought the ‘loud noise’ was going to go late into the night. I went to his home to reassure him the band would stop by 9:00 pm. However, he’d retreated into his house and would not answer the door.
The next day I saw him talking with a neighbor on the corner. I walked over to explain to him it was a one-time event, but he turned his back as I approached, not willing to acknowledge me. Truthfully, as I walked away, I thought of asking my son’s band to play every night that week. But I hardly entertained the idea before remembering Romans 13:10, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (ESV)
My wife and I prayed about our response. We decided to love this man in spite of himself, just as Christ loved us. We started by waving each time we drove by him. It only took a month before he began waving back, too. He could tell we were not vengeful by our smiles. Later that summer, he casually strolled over and helped me cut down my tree. Now when he sees us, he initiates the wave.
- Consider having some go-to scriptures for the next time you have a run-in with a neighbor.
- If you have taken revenge in the past, pray about how you can make amends with your neighbor.