by John E. Werhan
Recently, I was asked to address the topic of “Being a Good Neighbor.”
This is an important topic and should be on the minds of everyone. As humans, the majority of people desire and crave a relationship with others. Such relationships begin with one’s immediate family, moves on the extended family and finally to the populous at large.
In some places, a relationship with the last group is especially difficult. Some live years in an area and never know their neighbors. In an area such as ours, we are blessed to at least know the majority of people in our community.
Yet, such relationships are never without difficulties. Everyone is different and living in close proximity with others can manifest in various ways. This is why everyone should strive to be a good neighbor.
Jesus was asked the question, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” by the scribes (Mark 12:28b). Jesus answered them by commanding them [and us] to love God and our fellow man above ourselves (Mark 12:29-31).
The word translated “love” in this text is agapao which means, “To desire the very best for another.” The second greatest is that we are to agapao (love) one another as we love ourselves. Truly, most people would desire to keep the Lord’s command the best they can.
Would we like it if someone drove into our yard and had a party? Certainly, we would not. Therefore, since we would not like it done to us, why would we do it to someone else? Jesus said, “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you” (Luke 6:31).
Let us consider two of many points that will help us be good neighbors. First, let us walk in our neighbor’s shoes (Matthew 5:5).
Our neighbor probably has likes and dislikes that are different from us. Praise God he did not make us all alike. Because of this, they may have different tastes in house colors or yard decorations. They may do things that we would not do. Economics may be a factor in their decisions as well as health issues. Before we become disgruntled, we should step back and consider things from the neighbor’s point of view.
Besides, they may not like our choices or activities. Remember that a person’s house is their castle and their property is their kingdom.
Second, we need to back up and take a long look at ourselves (Matthew 7:5). It is imperative that we be the example of being a good neighbor. We should make sure that they are manifesting themselves and their actions in a neighborly manner. There may be things that we do that our neighbors do not like and would not do. Our house color or our choices in yard decorations may be eyesores. We all have our own likes and dislikes.
It has been said, “The best neighbors are those on the other side of a high and sound-proof fence.” Since this is never a reality, let James remind us of the Lord’s command, “If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well” (James 2:8).
If we will manifest (agapao) the very best for our neighbors, we may foster a cooperative relationship with our neighbors. It is a two-way street and we each must do our best to make these relationships grow.
John preachers for the The Northeast church of Christ in Sentinel, Oklahoma.