Neighbors-When Should I Be A Good Neighbor?
Good morning and welcome back!
This morning if you would start turning in your Bibles to .
In just a moment we are going to be looking at and finishing our series on neighbors.
And this morning we are going to be looking at the question, when should I be a good neighbor?
And that may seem like somewhat of a silly question but the reality is, there are times when we just don’t like being “neighborly.”
Maybe we’ve had a bad day or maybe we don’t feel well and we just don’t feel like being nice.
I’m sure everybody has had those days when they just didn’t feel like being neighborly.
And it is those days when we tend to fake it a bit.
We put on a fake smile and pretend that we are so happy, but deep down we are just not feeling it.
Or, we have that one neighbor who is so annoying that we go out of our way to avoid them.
We see them out of the corner of our eye in Walmart and we head down the other aisle.
Or we see them coming out of their house and we pretend we don’t see them and hurry back inside.
Or the whole time we are interacting with them the only thing we can think about is how we wished they would go away.
Or, we have that neighbor who isn’t very neighborly themselves.
They are rude, mean, and just plain difficult to get along with so we just try to stay away from them.
And I know that all of us at one time or another have felt this way, but if we are going to be honest this morning, is that really okay?
Should we be basing our behavior or how other people act?
After all, we can’t control other people and their behavior.
I am reminded of what says . . .
21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. 22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.
20 Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart. 21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
And even in doing this I am afraid we get it wrong.
We tend to read this and think, “Hmm, I will get my revenge! I will be nice just to make them miserable!”
Is that really being a good neighbor?
Shouldn’t our motivation to be nice be the Holy Spirit and not a revenge tactic?
The real meaning of this verse is that if we are nice and loving toward other people, the Holy Spirit can use that as a witness.
And that witness also convicts them of their sin, as a natural consequence, thus the burning coals.
They come to the realization of the fact that the way they are living is not in line with God and are confronted with a choice.
That’s the intended purpose.
Jesus also teaches us . . .
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
Now, that’s some tough stuff, but Jesus goes on . . .
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
So, that really doesn’t leave us a lot of wiggle room, does it?
And the reason is, we are supposed to be different.
We are not like the world, we are supposed to be the example of the world.
Which brings us to our focus for this morning.
So, if you have found in your Bibles, I’d invite you stand with me as we read.
Again, we are in . Paul writes . . .
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
So, lets start out by breaking this down a bit.
Paul begins again in verse 15 . . .
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,
Which actually exposes one problem that many people face today.
We have a tendency to do the exact opposite of what Paul says here.
He tells us to be very careful how we live.
Careful how though?
Well, we are told we should be wise and not unwise.
In other words we probably should slow down a bit and think before we act.
Look before we leap.
We live in such a fast paced and busy society that we have grown accustomed to making quick and sometimes snap decisions.
We are in such a rush to do everything that we do no think about things like the consequences of our decisions.
One thing I have heard Bro. Larry Nichols say many times is with any big decision he gives it at least three days to think about it.
And honestly that is good counsel.
Now, I know there are times when we have to make a fast decision in an emergency but for the most part, most big decisions can wait at least three days.
We need to take time and think about it, take time and ask God about it, and then take time and let God direct us.
And really, this is the key to being wise.
We think that you have to be old to be wise, but the reality is who is older than God?
Who is wiser than God?
No one…So, the key to wisdom is being in tune with God.
Take Solomon for example . . .
7 That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” 8 Solomon answered God, “You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place. 9 Now, Lord God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. 10 Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” 11 God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, riches or honour, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, 12 therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, riches and honour, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.”
2 Chronicles 1:7-
Solomon could have asked God for absolutely anything, but what did he want?
He wanted wisdom.
He wanted to be able to seek God’s counsel and have God’s understanding in matters.
And because of that God honored Solomon with both wisdom and success.
So, if we want to be wise, then we have to be in tune with God.
So, ask yourselves this morning am I in tune with God or do I make snap decisions?
And the other part of wisdom is being careful with how we live.
Not living loosely or dangerously.
Not tempting God, if you will.
Also, it includes being aware of others around us.
And I am not talking about caring about what other people think about you.
Because frankly, the only opinion that matters is God’s.
But, what I am talking about is being aware of how we are representing the Kingdom of God.
And again, it goes back to being in tune with God.
Are we loving? Are we kind? Are we longsuffering? Are we patient? Do we represent what God’s kingdom is all about?
Because like it or not people are watching us wanting to see how we react to situations, wanting to see if we truly are different. Wanting to see if all this Christianity stuff is worth buying into.
So, we should live our lives in tune with God, because God will show us what to do.
Something else Paul said was . . .
19 Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
1 Corinthians 9:19-
And sometimes people criticize Paul for taking this stance, but what he is saying is that when he was with Jews he respected their traditions and when he was with Gentiles he respected their traditions.
He did not hold himself up above anyone else and tried to understand their perspective.
And tried to tie the Gospel back to their everyday life, showing them that Jesus is for everybody.
He didn’t roll a joint with them or belly up at the bar with them, but he also didn’t shy away from them.
He was careful with how he lived so that he ALWAYS accurately reflected the gospel of Jesus Christ to others and we should be doing the same thing.
So, what does this have to do with when we should be a good neighbor?
Make the Most Out of It
Make the Most Out of It
The simple answer is ALWAYS. We should always be a good neighbor.
We should always live a careful and wise life, recognizing opportunity to be a good neighbor.
We should be like State Farm, who’s motto is “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.”
Now, I don’t know how true they are to their jingle, but the idea behind it is that we should always be there and always be a good neighbor to others.
Peter tells us . . .
15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
1 Peter 3:15
Always be ready. And our passage reminds us in verses 16-17 . . .
16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
We should be making the absolute most out of every single opportunity we have.
God gave us the opportunity, so we shouldn’t be squandering or wasting it.
It may be the other person’s last opportunity.
So, there is no real room to avoid that annoying neighbor or to retreat into ourselves.
Our neighbors should know that we are Christians and they should also know that we are there to help them in any situation.
Paul goes on to tell us . . .
18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Which tells us that if we want to be able to fulfill this tall order of always being a good neighbor then we must:
Be filled with the Spirit
Speak in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Reflecting the gospel in our speech).
Sing and make music in our heart (Reflecting the gospel in our lives).
Giving thanks always to God (who provides) and in Jesus’ name (who makes it possible).
This is what we should be reflecting to everyone we come into contact with.
Finally, Paul writes . . .
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
This morning, can we say we are doing this?
What it boils down to is are we reflecting Jesus Christ, ALL THE TIME?
Now, I know that’s a tall order, but it is all rooted in our relationship with God.
First, do we have a relationship? Is Jesus Christ your Savior this morning?
If not, that is the first step. Are you willing to take that step this morning?
None of this other stuff really matters unless you are willing to take that first step.
Are you willing to do that today?
The next part of that is being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Is Jesus your Lord, your master?
Have you given your life to God to use as God pleases?
This is what enables us to be in tune with God and in tune with the Holy Spirit at all times.
Is that something you need to do today?
Maybe you are here and you need to be refreshed, renewed.
You’ve grown weary and need a fresh wind.
You can do and do that too.
In fact, whatever the need is today you can come and bring it before the Lord here on this altar.
I would encourage you though to not delay but to come.
Will you do that? Will you come today?