Is busyness the root cause of why people have difficulties in loving their neighbor. I have asked myself this question and have even used it myself on numerous occasions for reasons why I couldn’t help my neighbor. In-fact my neighbors have said this to me. Not too long ago one of my neighbors had surgery and while he was on the road to recovery, he had a landscaping project that he needed some help with, especially with moving heavy rocks and dirt. Of course I offered to help him and told him so. My only caveat was that I couldn’t help him until the following day to which he agreed; three days later I noticed that the work he needed help with was already accomplished. In-fact he was finishing up with what was left of it. I went over to him and asked him why he didn’t get me to help him. His response haunts me to this day... He said that he would have, but he noticed that I’m busy all the time and I'm never home - “you know” he said, “your always busy with that church stuff.” I just took a straight punch to the gut, a right-cross to the jaw, and was finished with a swift upper-cut.
FEAR AND SELFISHNESS... I couldn’t believe it! My neighbor was kind enough to give the out I needed... In all seriousness, I felt really bad that he had to finish the project with the help of our other neighbor and himself, but I also was relieved that he allowed me to hide behind the excuse that I’m a very busy person and rarely home during sociable and functional hours of the day. I got to tell you though that after much thought, busyness isn’t an excuse, or at least one that holds weight with my neighbor, myself, and especially Jesus... No, my real issue isn’t busyness, but it is fear and selfishness...There is nothing more Satan wants than to distract God’s people from loving Him and their neighbors. He will use the church as an excuse, our kids, our jobs, and yes even our spouses, but the reality is that none of these are good reasons to not be the best neighbor our neighbor has ever had. I contend that fear and selfishness are the culprits of this. Don’t get me wrong, I believe busyness is an obstacle for sure, but it is not the root cause of us not loving our neighbors to Jesus. The burden of busyness that people strap to their backs can be debilitating, but it is still not an excuse. It is just a symptom of fear and selfishness. Fear causes us to pull up to our driveway, pull into the garage and shut the door behind us without talking to any of our neighbors. Fear gives us the mindset that we might or do have awful neighbors so it is best not to associate with them. Fear causes us to think that our neighbors won’t like us for who we are or the other way around, and the list could go on... Selfishness, well lets just say that selfishness drives us to avoid our neighbors. No one really wants discomfort, pain, unplanned disruptions, and all the other hard things that come with relationships.
If you say you love God then you must love your neighbor (Matthew 22:34-40).
As daunting as it can be to meet your neighbor and begin to love them the way God does, there are THREE initial easy steps you can take to start the process of being the best neighbor your neighbor has ever had.
1). Talk to God before you talk to your neighbor... Ask God to give you insight to your neighbor. Ask Him to reveal to you little things about your neighbor, things that are easy for you to pray about and engage your neighbors in conversation - talk to God before you talk to your neighbor... God knows your neighbor and their circumstances - ask Him to give you insight into their lives.
2.) This is a real simple one - wave and smile at them and say hello... I know their are some people who aren’t receptive to a smile and a friendly hello wave (I’m from California, I completely get that). However over time, and with repeated effort your hard work will pay off. You will eventually get that returned smile and wave or maybe even a Duck Dynasty Phil Robertson Thumbs Up.
3.) Simply get to know your neighbors names. Everyone has a name and everyone wants to be known! I truly believe everyone likes to hear the sound of their name called. Asking someone their name is one of the most disarming things a person can do. It actually helps give them dignity.
A thought to ponder: Would your neighbor and neighborhood miss you if your were to move away?
*Some of these thoughts find their genesis from a friend of mine named Brian Mavis and in the ministry of LifeBridge Christian Church