10 practical ways to show it

This is 4th in a series of blogs on “Love” in the month of February.

“…love your neighbor as yourself.”

—Matthew 22:39

As Christians, we’re not just to love our next-door neighbor. Jesus said we’re to love even our enemies! (Matt. 5:44.) He says that if we’re children of our Father in heaven, then we’re to love all people.

image: Desiring God

It’s easy to love those who love you, yet Jesus calls us to a higher standard of loving others. He calls Christians to love the lovable and the unlovable. We’re to reflect Christ’s love, which is sacrificial in nature, isn’t it? It is, most definitely! We don’t like that part very much, but when we learn the discipline of sacrificing our own desires for the betterment of others, a funny thing happens to us—we feel good! I think this is because God designed us (created in His image) to give selflessly. In turn, this brings its own blessings of contentment and joy in knowing that we treated another with kindness.

…when we learn the discipline of sacrificing our own desires for the betterment of others, a funny thing happens to us — we feel good! Click To Tweet

An enemy will probably not thank you, or even like that you did something good for them, but you must do so anyhow, with no strings attached. This will please God.

Let’s say you have a non-believing neighbor who you know is living a lifestyle that goes against what God’s law instructs. We are not called to judge our neighbor; instead, we need to treat them with respect. We don’t have to agree with their lifestyles or participate in their behaviors. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict them. First and foremost, they need to know God loves them exactly where they are at, even if we don’t like what they’re doing. This doesn’t mean we must approve of the things they do, but we are to love all people out of a concern for their eternal soul.

Loving people well draws people to God. By this, hopefully, they will turn from the world’s ways and turn towards God’s ways. It’s all grace, and we’re just the seed planters. No matter what, love well.

10 practical ways to love your neighbor:

  1. Be available in case of emergencies. Let them have your contact info in case they need you in the middle of the night. (For example, my next door neighbor went into labor at 2:00 AM and called me to be with their sleeping toddler, as they rushed off to have their second child. I waited there until one of their relatives came to take over.)
  2. If you live in cold climates where there’s lots of snow, shovel the sidewalk in front of your neighbor’s house, if they haven’t had the chance to do it themselves.
  3. Offer to mow their lawn if they go on vacation.
  4. When a new neighbor moves in, make them a special treat (cookies?) or bring them flowers from your garden as a way to say “welcome.”
  5. Have you ever run out of an ingredient in the middle of a recipe? I have! Because I took the time to get to know my next door neighbor, I was able to call over to see if they had a couple of extra eggs. (They did!) Offer to allow others to borrow things, too, like a rake or bicycle tire pump.
  6. Babysit in a pinch. Sometimes the sitter doesn’t show up, and your neighbor is left without anyone to care for the kids. If you’re around, be available for those kinds of instances.
  7. If they tell you a heart-breaking story, just listen. Let them know you’ll keep them in your prayers.
  8. Compliment them on their home improvements.
  9. If they’re sick, offer to run to the store to pick up something that they might need.
  10. Always be friendly, waving hello and warmly smiling at them.

Think Divinely: Love wins people’s hearts over to God, not judgment. How will you love your neighbor today?