Throughout scripture, we are told to love our neighbor. In Mark 12:30-31, Jesus says “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second [greatest commandment] is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Jesus compares loving your neighbor to loving God. That’s a big deal. So, who is our neighbor? I’m glad you asked.
One of the teachers of the law in Jesus’ day asked him the same question, which leads Jesus to tell the story of The Good Samaritan. Through the story, we learn that our neighbor is not just the people who live on either side of us but anyone who crosses our path in life. They are the people across town, in another state, or even overseas.
There are times we do that well. We serve at a food pantry, volunteer at school, and donate to global missions. However, sometimes in our efforts to love our neighbor, we overlook those closest to us. We get busy and miss the opportunities to love the person that lives next door. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture or a time-consuming project. It can be a little thing that simply lets them know that you see them, you know them, you love them.
To do so, you do have to know them. Maybe your first step is simply introducing yourself and learning their name. It would be all too easy to use COVID as an excuse right now (and in some cases, it is a completely valid reason) but if you are able, find a creative way to meet them! Consider writing them a note to introduce yourself and leave it on their door. Or make a point to say hi when you are both getting home from work instead of just hurrying inside.
You may already know your neighbors, use this opportunity to get to know them better! Whatever your first step is, take some time this next week to intentionally love your neighbor next door. Here are a few ideas if you need a place to start -
- Call an elderly neighbor to see if they need anything from the store while you are out
- Bake a treat and leave it on their doorstep
- Write a note of encouragement and drop it off
- Give them a call just to say hi and let them know you are thinking of them
- Take them flowers or coffee
- Rake their leaves (or shovel snow)
- Watch their kids so they can have a night to themselves
- Take them dinner by simply making more than you/your family needs one night
- Help carry in their groceries
When it comes to loving our neighbor, sometimes we try to overcomplicate things. We think that we have to plan something elaborate or formal when in reality, the little things you do to show someone you care makes just as much, or more, of an impact. Loving your neighbor can also be the way you pray for them, how you ask about their day and the way you respect and honor them as God’s creation. I pray that through your love, your neighbor will be encouraged by the light of Jesus in you.