3 Tangible Ways to Love and Care for Your Neighbors

It may not seem like it, given everything reported in the news these days, but the United States is, relatively speaking, a strongly Christian nation. A common complaint amongst American Christians is that it’s difficult to live out your faith in any a way that has a meaningful or lasting impact.

But this simply isn’t true. If you study the commands of the Bible, it’s clear that there are plenty of ways to let your light shine ... many of them in your own backyard.

Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

In chapter 12 of the Gospel of Mark, we find the story in which one of the teachers of the religious law asks Jesus to name the most important of all the commandments. Jesus responds by saying there is only one God and “you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.”

He goes on to say, “The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.”

Though we don’t have time to dive into a word study and all the implications in the sentence structure of these statements, perhaps the most crucial point here is that Jesus essentially equates loving your neighbor with loving God. In His eyes, loving your neighbor and loving God carry the same weight and importance.

So why do we find it so hard to love our neighbors? Not our Christian friends, fellow church members, or family, but in the utterly literal sense; that is to say, the people who live on your street and in your neighborhood.

If we’re going to follow Jesus’s command to love our neighbors as ourselves, it only makes sense to start with the people who share our property lines and sidewalks.

Three Tips for Loving Your Neighbors

The Bible doesn’t tell us merely to like our neighbors, or put up with them. It tells us to love our neighbor.

If you want to be an obedient Christian who lives out your faith, there’s no more practical place to start than right where you live. Here are some tangible things you can start doing today:

1. Set an Example

The biggest complaint Christians have against loving their neighbors is that their neighbors don’t treat them well. Guess what? Most of Jesus’s neighbors didn’t treat him too kindly either.

“If you expect your neighbors to be good, you have to set the example,” Green Residential says. “Always follow the Golden Rule and treat them how you want to be treated. This means keeping noise to a minimum, obeying HOA bylaws, and actually taking the time to interact with your neighbors when you cross paths.”

2. Invite People Over for Dinner

One of the most neighborly acts you can do for maximum impact is to invite someone over for a meal in your residence. There’s something very special and intimate about bringing someone into your home, fixing a meal, and breaking bread together. It gives you a chance to love, share, and serve, all at the same time.

3. Help Them Help You

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t like to feel needy or in debt to anyone -- especially a neighbor. So that may drive you to act highly independent and turn down offers for help, even when you could use the assistance.

But when you do this, you’re actually doing a disservice to your neighbors. Brooke Huskey tells a story of the relationship she and her husband formed with an elderly couple who lived next door.

The neighbors -- Anne and Bill -- were kind, friendly, and caring. Bill battled bladder cancer for a number of months, while Anne cared diligently for him. Brooke was there to support Anne along the way, especially after Bill succumbed to his illness.

After Bill’s passing, Anne had a lot more time on her hands (and a huge void in her heart). Each morning when Brooke walked her children to school, she would wave or chat with Anne in passing.

Frequently, Anne would ask to give them a ride. Each time, Anne politely declined, because there was no real need on her part. But eventually, she began to oblige -- usually on rainy or snowy days.

It was on one of these occasions that Brooke realized she was actually doing something for Anne -- not the other way around. “I learned that accepting grace from someone else, allowing someone else in to fulfill a need that I have can open up an opportunity for a deeper, more meaningful relationship,” Brooke explains.

The lesson here should be: Don’t deny a neighbor the opportunity to help you. In doing so, you may be denying them an opportunity to love. Be vulnerable and understand what it means to build community.

Don’t Neglect Your Calling

One of our greatest callings as Christians is to love our neighbors. It’s not always easy, but it’s truly necessary. Don’t ignore this responsibility!

The Christian Post