Love Thy Neighbor As Thy Brother

Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll Everything we do and say communicates a signal, or message, to those around us. But signals can be misinterpreted. For example, a Christian who has read any of my previous articles would read the title "Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll" and may respond by saying. "Oh, boy! Jeff is really going to give it to those sex fiends, druggies, and punk rockers!" On the other hand, an unbeliever reading the title "Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll" may react by saying, "Oh, boy! Where can I get me some!" The title to this article is supposed to give an indication of the character of this article. But people sometimes jump to the wrong conclusions.

Some messages may be universal. If you heard someone singing "Jingle Bells", you would know he was singing a Christmas song. Other messages are much more personal and intimate. For example, a song that a father had made up himself to sing to his two sons would have meaning (or would be recognizable) to only his children. I have seen movies in which two children were separated from each other at a young age. The two children were reunited as adults, although they did not recognize each other. Then when one of the children heard his brother singing the song their father had made up, the children became recognizable to each other.

It is not that the brothers actually recognized each other as a brother. The brothers recognized the fact that they both had the same father; hence, they were brothers. That is kind of like the way things should be at church. You recognize the fact that you have the same Father as other Christians; hence, you are Brothers in Christ.

Why have I written so many articles over the past few years? Partly to encourage. Partly to instruct. But mostly to promote unity within our congregation which, in turn, would provide some of the support and encouragement we need to love our neighbors. I hoped to teach you how to convey the message that you are Christians to both believers and unbelievers. I didn't want unbelievers to jump to the wrong conclusions concerning the character of our congregation. And I hoped that Christians reading my articles would recognize each other as Brothers in Christ because they had heard our Father's voice in my articles.

Be Stubborn About It (Note: This article was written when I was married.) I remember when my wife and I moved from our apartment into our first house. What a thrill it is to own property! The Bible begins in The Garden of Eden. And God's people were looking for the Promised Land in the Bible. Getting a house makes you feel like you have reached the Promised Land and you can have a Garden of Eden right in your own back yard! There is something about a house that makes you feel "grounded". However, along with the thrill of owning property also comes the responsibility of taking care of it. It seems like there will always be something that needs repaired, replaced, cut, watered, painted, tightened, cleaned, etc.

When someone helped my wife and me take care of our house, it made us feel good inside. We felt good because that person's help relieved us of a burden. We got to take something off our "things to do" list. And, of course, it always made us feel good inside when someone cared enough about us to want to help. In our society, time is a very precious commodity. When we offer our time, we are offering a great gift or sacrifice. That means a lot to people.

Maybe you wish to become closer to your neighbor (or to a Brother or Sister in Christ), but you are hesitant because you don't know how to make the first move. Consider offering your help to your neighbor, a co-worker, or a fellow Christian as a way to get to know him better. Pray and wait for an opportunity to see with what he needs help.

People often mention in casual conversation what they will be doing some evening or weekend. Pick up on their needs and offer to help them. They will appreciate your gesture to help with their house, their apartment, their car, etc. Maybe you seldom talk to your neighbor. Then watch for when he is outside working on something, then go over and offer to help. What if he is going to fix something you don't know anything about?

Don't pretend to be a know-it-all. And don't wreck his house for him. Instead, ask if you can come over and watch. He will enjoy having someone with whom he can share his expertise and knowledge. Besides, often times someone likes another person there to talk to him and to keep him company. When you are doing your chores, time seems to go faster when you have someone to talk to you. And time goes even faster when someone can help you with your chores.

You will show that you care about your neighbor by helping relieve him of some of his responsibilities to maintain his property. And you might even give him a warm, fuzzy feeling when he realizes how much he appreciates your company and your help. And you will find opportunities to share your faith with him and/or invite him to church. And remember, when you reach out to touch the heart of another, your own heart will be touched, as well.

How do you reach out to touch the heart of another? You have to be stubborn. People usually think of being stubborn as something bad. But being stubborn can be very good when it means you are sticking to your beliefs. Jesus witnessed to a Samaritan woman. This was unexpected because women were considered lower than men at the time. And the Jews hated the Samaritans. (John 4:1-26) Jesus was stubborn and held to His beliefs. He loved His neighbor. Jesus was different from others. If you want to witness to others, you have to stand out as being different from those around you in the world. We are called to be a peculiar people. (1 Peter 2:9) If you want to stand out, you must go one step further than what people expect of you. But don't go one step further than what society dictates without knowing what the Bible says. First, follow the guidelines found in the Bible. Pray about what you have read. And then when you want to stand out, follow the Bible and also go one step further than social conventions.

When you are doing something positive for someone, take your good deed to the next level. Do a little more than what is expected and you will stand out as a person who is a loving, caring person. You will stand out as a giver. You will stand out as a Christian who loves his neighbor.

When you are trying to avoid sin, follow the Bible and also try to be a little more restrictive than what social conventions allow. If you go one step further to avoid sin, you will stand out as a person who stands for good moral judgment and Biblical principles. You will stand out as a Christian.

Are you stubborn? Do you stand out as a Christian? Are you peculiar? Do you love your neighbor? I pray that you do.

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