devozine

Spiritual Practice

It’s Not Easy to Be a Good Neighbor

Kami Rice

When I moved into my new apartment, I was eager to begin meeting my neighbors. Four days later, a couple moved in across from me. We chatted in the hallway, and they seemed eager to get to know me too. Despite the clutter of moving boxes and the busyness of unpacking, we found time to visit that first weekend. Our friendship seemed to be off to a fine beginning.

Neighbors in India2 TSP 478126777 copyI learned that my new neighbors were from India, a country I had visited recently. They were practicing Hindus, so I began to pray that God would use our budding friendship as an opportunity for me to tell them about my faith. I wondered if it were part of God’s plan that I had moved into this apartment.

Four months later, my interactions with this couple have slowed considerably. The wife is often out of town trying to finalize a project from her previous job, so I haven’t been able to invite them over again.

As for my other neighbors, I’ve had brief conversations with only two of the twelve people who live in my apartment section. I didn’t expect that meeting my neighbors would be as difficult as it has been.

knock on door Ftr TSP 177294089Despite the challenges, I believe that we honor God by knowing and loving our neighbors. So I’ll keep trying.

While we live in a friendly locale, we also live in a culture where people shut themselves inside their homes to watch TV, play video games, or surf the Internet. We don’t always have natural ways of getting to know our neighbors. I’ve had conversations in passing with people who live around me, but we rarely come and go at the same time. If I want to meet my neighbors, I need to start taking the initiative and knocking on doors.

Loving Neighbors

Romans 12:9–21 tells us to love others sincerely (not for what our neighbors can do for us or as evangelism projects), to share with those in need, to practice hospitality, to celebrate with people who are happy, and to mourn with those who are mourning.

Talk with neighbor2 TSP 89597664We can’t love our neighbors sincerely if we don’t know them at all. We can’t share with those in need if we don’t know them well enough to know their needs. We can’t celebrate or mourn with them without knowing when they are celebrating and mourning. We can’t answer the question “How’s my neighbor?” if we never talk to our neighbors.

Therefore, I won’t give up. I’ll keep praying for opportunities to meet, know, and love my neighbors, for ways to know how my neighbors are doing and to make a positive difference in their lives.

 

food to neighbor2 TSP 83590547

DIG DEEPER

How many of your neighbors do you know? Are you aware of what is going on in their lives? If not, try visiting a few of them.

Now that spring is arriving, your neighbors will probably be outdoors more. Walk around your neighborhood and see how many neighbors you can talk to along the way. Then read Romans 12:9–21. What ideas does the scripture give you for ways to interact with your neighbors?

Kami Rice is a Nashville-based freelance writer who hopes she soon will know more of her neighbors.

—from devozine (March/April 2011). Copyright © 2011 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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