“Sometimes it is the quiet observer who sees the most,” – Kathryn Nelson.
Most people grow up in a city or suburb and wave to their neighbors but really don’t know them all that well. Statistics indicate that roughly 25 percent of people really know their neighbors. If we’re lucky, we may know the people who live next to us but probably don’t know most of the people who live two or three houses away from ours.
The average routine goes like this: We drive home from work, push the button on our remote garage door opener, pull into the garage, close the garage door, and go into the house. If we emerge from the house that evening, we may go only to our backyard, possibly to play a little soccer with the kids or to throw a steak on the grill. Then we go to bed and repeat the process. The next morning, we raise the garage door, back out, and wave to a neighbor as we pull away from our house.
God commands us to love our neighbors like Jesus. Love is the deliberate act of valuing someone more than you value yourself. Love is the deliberate act of acting for and listening to others. Love is wanting others to succeed, to be happy and fulfilled, and to have a relationship with God.
It begins with getting to know our neighbors. Contrast virtual relationships with relationships that are personal, deepening, supportive, faith-building relationships of love that are highly valued as expressions of God’s love. We can miss the needs of people around us if we are not paying attention. I wasn’t taking an interest in them. Because I wasn’t looking out for their needs, I missed chances to help. And that grieves me a lot. Instead of grieving missed opportunities, be intentional about looking away from yourself and toward the needs of others, where you’ll find happiness in serving God through serving others.
Effective relationships are a two-way street so as we bless others we will be blessed as well. Acts 20:35 says, “And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Everyone has a need for close relationships. We thrive in healthy friendships and find great fulfillment there. To have these types of friendships, we need to realize it is our responsibility to find and build healthy relationships. To do so, we must reach out to others and treat them the way we would desire to be treated by a friend — looking out for what is in their best interest.
- What does being observant mean to you?
- Who is that neighbor who is hard for you to love? Ask the Lord to fill your heart with his love and mercy, then extend that love and mercy to them today. What can we do to be more watchful as we train our minds?