I was recently spending time with my boys, when we began to hear screaming coming from the neighbors yard. My son looked out to see our neighbor in tears and distress. Not sure what to do, I began getting ready to go over there. Before I could step out the door, I received a call from them. In a tearful quiver, she apologized for screaming so loud and told me that her father had passed away. In anguish she was screaming in prayer for the father she had lost. Her first instinct following her meltdown was to call me! She knew that I cared, and she knew that I would be there for her. I let her cry and prayed with her as she went off to continue her emotional journey to the funeral home.
What caused her to call me? I am but a neighbor, a person that just happens to live across the street. I am not family, I have no relation, and yet I was the one she called. The answer is that I have worked hard to develop a relationship with her. I have worked with her, taken care of her child, baked goodies for her, and spent time just hanging out at their fire pit, roasting marshmallows. We have gone far beyond the normal neighbor relationship of smiling at a each other as you happen to leave for work at the same time, or the polite wave as you drive by them daily.
Our family has personally developed relationships with each of the neighbors that surround us. We know their names, where they work, what religion they are, and what they like to do for fun. They invite us to birthdays and have each spent time at our home. I have baked countless goodies for them, and exchanged Christmas cards. We watch each others homes when on vacation, and we have each others numbers in our phone.
So, why did the woman across the street call me in her time of need? It wasn't because we were just neighbors, we had become friends. In Mark 12:29-31, the teachers of the law asked Jesus what the most important commandment was. His response: “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 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 is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these.” Not only are we told to love our neighbor, it is the 2nd greatest commandment!
Let us remember to take the time to get to know the people around us. Instead of giving the usual quick smile and then running to your car for work, say, "Hi" and take a moment to get to know them. Bake them something, mow their lawn, rake their leaves, or grab the lawn chairs and just sit outside and roast some marshmallows. It doesn't have to be a fancy, drawn out plan; it just needs to come from the heart. Remind yourself of how you like to be treated, cared for, and apply that same courtesy to those around you. Take a little time today to Love Your Neighbor!