Neighbors. An interesting Daily Prompt, I thought when I read it this morning. For one, I’ve never paid that much attention to who our neighbors were until we moved into our current house. Second of all, we’re going to be moving (and therefore saying goodbye to our neighbors) in one week! So I just thought that it was interesting timing.
I would definitely consider the neighbors that live across the street from us to be the nicest. An elderly lady and her husband live there. The woman often comes out to say hello and chat a little bit when we’re outside. After my back surgery last summer, she frequently asks how I’m doing and if I’ve had any updates from my doctor. (Speaking of which, last month the doctor told me that I’m free to do whatever I want! Hooray!)
The neighbors to our right are nice people. Unfortunately, they’re a bit on the loud side. They like to leave music playing outside even after they’ve been inside for an hour. They have a police siren on their car and frequently use it for no apparent reason (I’m not exactly sure how that’s legal). But, overall, they’re pretty nice people. I’ve even babysat their kids a time or two.
Then there’s the neighbors to our left. We don’t know much about them, except that they apparently have some sort of band. So at eleven at night, you can hear them practicing whatever song with (can I be honest?) some not-so-good vocals. And it’s quite normal to hear them playing drums throughout the day. Not the greatest neighbors to have.
So what’s the point of all of this? I’ve established that I have some very nice neighbors, some so-so ones, and the type that no one wants to have as neighbors. The thing is, the word “neighbors” doesn’t just have to apply to people who live next-door to you. The people you meet in your every day life, the ones you interact with, even the people you bump into at the supermarket–those are your neighbors. And some of them are nice, some aren’t, and others are so-so.
Here’s what I want to ask you. When you run into your “neighbors”, how do you respond?
The nice people in your life are the easiest. These are probably your family or friends. It’s easy to respond in a great way to someone who’s already nice to you. But what about the way we react to people who are rude, selfish, or uncaring? What does the Bible have to say about this?
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy .But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.” (Matthew 5:43-47)
This passage says it all. Really, what does it mean if we’re nice to those who are nice to us? Anyone can do that! It’s loving our enemies, those who hurt us, even the “so-so” people in life, that takes a God-like love. No one said loving your enemies was easy; it takes the love of Jesus, overflowing from inside of us, to do what otherwise would have been impossible.
The love that Jesus gives goes beyond loving the nice neighbors but not the annoying neighbors. It’s loving how He did–and still does. Because when we didn’t deserve it and couldn’t return it, God loved us anyway.
My challenge to you? To me? To all of us? Go, and love others the way God loved us.