Love Thy Neighbor as Thy Self


Thou shall love thy neighbor as thy self. Mark 12:31. There is none other commandment greater than this. God chose to teach me this lesson, one day. I always thought I was a pretty good Christian. I try very hard to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. However, loving my neighbor is, somehow, something I don't do well.

About twelve summers ago, I had neighbors, across the street, that were party animals; loud, obnoxious, drinkers, vulgar, etc. I was always aggravated, on the week ends, as they began their weekend drunk and disorderly. Summer was worse, as they partied outside.

Funny thing, when I prayed, I never included them in my intercessions for the lost, loved, ones. Well, after all, Lord, they weren't family, nor would I like it if they were.

They had a little girl, I would imagine to be about six years old, and, as she would see us leave when she was in the yard, she would stick out her tongue and make distorted faces at us. You know, that kid thing, when they weren't brought up proper. (Like my own children didn't do those things when out of my sight.) What a distasteful child. But then, what would you expect from that family? Why she chose us to display her faces I wondered. After all, I had never spoke unkindly to her. In truth, I never spoke to her. What a self-righteous sanctimonious, self serving, Christian I was.

Well, these attitudes will come home to roost and God will see to it.

One afternoon, I had gone to help Gloria clean the church and, as we live just three blocks from there, I declined the ride home and decided to walk. It was a very hot summer day and the last block to my house is on a small incline. I had started up the hill, about a hundred feet from home, and began to get sick. My leg went numb. I stumbled to our drive way and could no longer stand. I fell to my knees. I would have to crawl.

About that time, the man (you know, the heathen) saw my distress and rushed over to help me to the house. He opened my front door (getting me inside), sat me in the easy chair, then called for his wife. He called Harley at work and asked him to hurry home. He then left, telling his wife to stay with me until my husband got home.

She never really spoke to me. (I wonder why?) But, she propped up my foot, on the foot stool, and made me comfortable. Then, she sat across from me, to her appointed vigil. She reminded me of a scared animal (or, more like a trapped animal) confronted by a bear. By this time, I was in tears ... not from the pain but from the humiliation, shame, remorse, and all the above.

As soon as Harley arrived home, she bolted out the door. I thanked her, over and over again, for all they had done ... to which I got a quick bashful, "Your welcome." Then, she was gone.

That afternoon, after returning home from the doctor, I sent them a beautiful planter of greenery and fresh flowers with a beautiful card of 'thanks for being good neighbors'. I even asked God to bless them richly.

I would like to say that we become great friends and good neighbors. But, that was not the case. They always kept their distance. Only, they would wave, now, and returned it ... never any doors to friendship.

The little girl began to smile and wave at us and, one day, we stopped in the driveway and invited her to Sunday school. Her father quickly vetoed that gesture. She looked a little sad.

After all these years, what really bothers me is that I had failed my Lord to be the good neighbor. They were the good neighbors. I realize, had the situation been reversed, I would have gone to their rescue. But, that doesn't absolve me from the fact that I failed, as a Christian, to be the witness. Also, I would not have learned this very important lesson in my life, had I had a wonderful Christian attitude when it was self serving. I have to be honest about this, or the lesson would have been wasted.

I can only hope, after they moved, that God planted a true, humble, Christian in their path to lead them to the Lord. I have come to realize how much I had put my Lord to shame in my attitude.

2003 by Sandra Griffin ssgriffin@qconline.com

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