The Gift of Being a Neighbor

On coming to the house they saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, and of incense and of myrrh. Matthew 2:11

Most of us do not have much gold lying around the house, fewer still Incense, and probably no one even knows what myrrh is any more. So over the next twelve days I’m going to suggest twelve things you won’t be able to find at the shopping mall or even on-line, that we should be putting on our gift list for Jesus Christ. Today we start with the gift of being a good neighbor.

The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31 – Most of us know that Jesus told us to love our neighbors, but it helps to remember that Jesus had neighbors too! He took the time to talk with them while He was also doing the more miraculous things like healing some of them. Jesus took time to change water into wine at a nearby wedding. He raised a widow’s son from the dead at a neighboring village and showed fisherman how to catch enough fish for a month. But in His own neighborhood Jesus was rejected!

Do you have neighbors who have rejected our friendship, invitations to special events at church or even good mornings at the mailbox? But, their rejection doesn’t get us off the hook from the command to love. Instead, Jesus might say, “Welcome to the club!”  He was so roundly rejected and His own brothers and sisters didn’t believe in Him and even Mary began to wonder about His sanity. But Jesus just kept on doing what He could. Jesus continued to share the good news that God had anointed Him to bring the gospel to the poor, freedom for the captives and sight for the blind. One day some of them would understand. His mother followed Him to the cross. Two of His brothers became apostles and more than half of His disciples came from the nearby city of Capernaum.

How can you give the gift of being a neighbor to someone this Christmas? Shepherds gave him praise. A small boy offered five loaves of bread. The woman at the well gave Him water and a rich man, a tomb to borrow for three days. Ask God for ideas, then step out in faith, because we will never know what He can do with what we give until we place it in His hands!

This morning I’m sharing one of my favorite Christmas songs called There’s a Rose in Bethlehem. May you have a blessed day and stay tuned for eleven more gifts along our journey to Christmas this year.

Willing to Be a Neighbor

But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.  So he went to himand bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.      Luke 10:33-34        

Jesus told a story of three people who passed by a man left for dead. Two of them were busy with their lives but one chose to stop and help. The first man was known for his religion and the second for his good family background. But only the third; a Samaritan, who even Jesus’ disciples would have avoided because of his race was remembered as a good neighbor. The Samaritan became a nieghbor because he slowed down long enough make a connection to someone he didn’t even know. He didn’t care about what anyone thought. His willingness to connect to a single person is remembered after 2,000 years! He was willing to serve, he shared a smile, even when no one else was willing to help. Making a connection meant taking the time to have compassion even when he was in a hurry.

God is holding a doorway open to make a connection to you and me today. In the story of the Good Samaritan we never do find out what happens next to the man left behind at the inn. In the same way today, Jesus is asking us to show mercy even when we don’t know what might happen next. The rest of the story because belongs to God. He is the greatest author of all time and He has some amazing endings to write for anyone willing to be a neighbor.

Run over anyone’s mailbox lately?

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.   Matthew 22:39

Our neighbors may know we go to church but they also know see how we clean our house and what laundry we hang out on the line! As God’s children we need to act in loving ways to all kinds of people at all kinds of unexpected times.

Long ago when I worked on a tree trimming crew our practice was to eat our lunch in the truck on the job site. So one day while we were clearing along  a narrow road at lunch I pulled the truck off to the side as far as I could in order to allow cars to pass. When it was time to get back to work, I started up the truck and began to pulling forward when I suddenly heard a loud crunch. Slamming on the brakes and jumping out I discovered that I had run over someone’s mailbox.

Kevin, my co-worker was doubled over with laughter, “You’re in trouble now Pete!” he said with glee. I was frustrated and embarrassed but humbly I walked up the driveway, knocked on the door of the house.  What a relief it was that the lady who owned the mailbox was understanding and accepted my apology as well as my offer to come back to fix it after work.

When I got back to the truck Kevin had stopped laughing and as I started to pick up my tools to return to work he turned and said, “Now I really believe you are a Christian!”  It wasn’t too long after that when Kevin gave his heart to the Lord. So if we want to love our neighbor as ourselves  sometimes, apologizing for running over their mailbox is  the best way!