Who Is My Neighbour?

Who is my neighbour? If this question is asked to me I may probably answer, “Those who live near my house.” But the Bible has a different answer. My neighbours include those who come to my house like postman, vegetable vendors, sanitary workers, shopkeepers where I shop, colleagues, relatives, those in need of my help (even strangers), family members and my enemies too. 

In Matthew 22:35,36 a teacher of the law asked Jesus, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” In Luke 10:25 a lawyer asked Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life. The answer to both these was the same - 

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘ You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Mt 22:37-40).  

The entire Scripture crystalize to these two commandments

1. Love the Lord 

2. Love your neighbour 

These two commandments are not found in the same place in the Old Testament but in two different places (Dt 6:5; Lev 19:18). Since both Jesus and the lawyer picked up both these verses and presented the combination, I suppose, those days it was in vogue. Maybe the Bible scholars of those days searched the Scriptures high and low to fi nd the answer to this question and picked up these two, out of the innumerable commands from Genesis to Malachi. Some might have suggested the Sabbath as the most important and some others circumcision and still others, burnt offerings and sacrifices (Mk 12:33). But they finally decided it was these two. The Old Testament does not say that if we do these two we will have eternal life. But it was rightly presumed by the teachers. 

Matthew records love for neighbours as, “the second is like it” (Mt 22:39). That means you can’t love God without loving your neighbour and vice - versa. James calls it The Royal Law (Js 2:8). That is how important it is. The Bible is full of commandments from Genesis to Revelation but there is no commandment greater than these (Mk 12:31). We love ourselves with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. So that’s how we must love our neighbours. In both the commandments the central word is “love.”

The lawyer asked another question, “Who is my neighbour?” Jesus told him and the crowd the parable of the Good Samaritan and asked him who was neighbour to the victim. Unhesitantly he replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” He wouldn’t even say, “The Samaritan.” Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.” The Samaritans were called dogs by the Jews and least respected. But it was he who helped the victim. In other words Jesus was telling him to love those whom he considered the least, his worst enemies and strangers on the street, not just his friends, colleagues and acquaintances (Lk 10:25-37). 

Now that we have defined the word “Neighbour,” Let’s go on to see our relationship with our neighbours. 

1. Love 

The quintessence of the whole matter is love. Neighbours may give us trouble and our natural tendency will be to get even, or carry bitterness in our heart against them. The solution is to love them as we love ourselves. Loving your neighbour is “like it” or equal to loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Do you understand the seriousness of loving your neighbour? 

Coming to the New Testament, Jesus goes one step further and says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven’” (Mt 5:43-45). Jesus thus made every fellow human being our neighbour. 

I was surprised that this command is repeated in nine places in the Bible! So you can understand the importance (Lev 19:18; Mt 19:19; 22:39; Mk 12:31,33; Lk 10:27; Rom 13:9; Gal 5:14; Js 2:8). 

How can we love someone as we love ourselves? Is it possible? Jesus gave a pragmatic solution: “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the prophets” (Mt 7:12). In a tight situation take a minute to think, ‘What would I like somebody to do to me if I were in this situation?’ You’ll know what to do to that somebody. Love is something you get in proportion to what you give. “Live without pretending, love without depending, listen without defending, speak without offending” says Aubsey Drake Graham, rapper and singer. 

2. Covet  

Not The Ten Commandments tell us, “You shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his man servant, maid servant, ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour” (Exo 20:17). 

Let’s take the example of partitioning of properties between children. Do I wrongfully make my parents write a will, giving me something which should be rightly bequeathed to my brother or sister? Do I want a lion’s share of the property? Do I instigate my spouse to ask for more? Why should we covet that which my brother or sister should inherit? “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.” Why? “Because” God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Heb 13:5). When God is always with us, what is the need to grab? All the children should sit together and amicably settle the matter. If there is misunderstanding, for God’s sake remember Isaac and give it up. Never have an eye on anything that belongs to somebody. If your desire for what is his becomes intense, it may lead you to defraud him or rob him or even murder him (Lev 19:13; 25:14). We may be tempted to move our boundary stone a wee bit, encroaching on his property; or even the government land (Dt 19:14). 

“Watch out! be on your guard against all kinds greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions,” said Jesus to the man who asked Him to tell his brother to divide the inheritance with him (Lk 12:13-15). 

3. Cheating And Lying

We must be trustworthy people to our neighbours. If we start lying and cheating then the trust is destroyed. “Help, Lord, for the godly are no more; the faithful have vanished from among men. Everyone lies to his neighbour,” laments David (Psalm 12:2). Still worse is the song where he sings, “They speak cordially with their neighbours but harbour malice in their hearts” (28:3). “Friend deceives friend, and no one speaks the truth” (Jer 9:4,5,8). What do you do when people stab you in the back? Decide not to do that to them. 

“I prefer to have too much confidence and thereby be deceived, than to be always mistrustful. For in the first case, I suffer for a moment, and in the second, I suffer constantly,” said someone. God wants us to be straightforward with our neighbours. “Speak the truth to each other” says God (Zech 8:16). Why? We are one body (Eph 4:25). If they are believers then we are cheating ourselves. Love always trusts (1 Cor 13:7). But when your trust is taken advantage of, you tend to mistrust anyone. But always have in mind that it is better to be cheated than to cheat. 

4. Responsibility Towards Our Neighbours 

Because of proximity and trust, neighbours may leave their valuables or children with us when they go out. It is a big responsibility to undertake and we must carefully guard what is entrusted to us. If things are lost or damaged we must make restitution. If you borrow anything from your neighbour be careful to return it undamaged. Maintain your rented house well. When you vacate the house, see that the electricity bill is paid and the house is clean (Exo 22:7-15). 

Whatever you owe to your neighbour give it as early as possible (Pro 3:28). When a worker came to my father for his wages, my father asked him to come the next day. The man went to catch snakes and was bitten by a cobra and died. Those days they used to sell snake skins to make a living. My father was fi lled with remorse because if he had paid the wages that day, he wouldn’t have gone to catch snakes. He could not forgive himself. 

If God has blessed us, it is to build up the people around us (Rom 15:2). We can all share what we have and help our co-passengers in this journey called life. There was no valid reason for the existence of a poor widow who had only a few copper coins for her sustenance, in the huge Jewish congregation at the Jerusalem temple. There was so much teaching for them about the care of widows. Yet, though they were dropping huge amounts for God, nobody turned to see this poor widow. They loved God, but not their neighbour (Lk 21:1-4). Truly they were fi ltering mosquitoes and swallowing camels. They forgot mercy which was foremost. 

Keep a respectable distance. If you frequent their house, you’ll make a nuisance of yourself. Unless you are in dire need, do not borrow from your neighbour money or things (Prov 25:17). That way, relationship with our neighbours will be smooth. 

5. Adultery

Good neighbours are those who talk over the compound wall but do not climb over, they say. We are thrown together too often and too close which may result in an erotic relationship, leading to bitterness and fight that ultimately ends in damaged relationship. “Good fences make good neighbours!” says Robert Frost. When affection turns to passion, you lose your head. Reason then becomes submerged beneath the waves of passion. We must have absolute self-control in matters of sex and not give place to the devil. 

The Bible repeatedly warns us of this sin, starting with the Ten Commandments (Exo 20:17). What happens when you violate God’s principle? You defile yourself (Lev 18:20). Even if you look at a person lustfully with your EYES, you have committed adultery in your HEART, said Jesus (Mt 5:28). One man in the Old Testament who had understood the New Testament message was Job. He made a covenant with his EYES not to look lustfully. He never allowed his HEART to be enticed by a woman. He never lingered around a neighbour’s door to catch a glimpse of the lady. And what severe punishment he called upon himself if he violated his self-imposed discipline! (Job 31:1,9-12). Who demanded him of such strictness? His conscience! Acknowledging that sexual feelings exist is one thing. But fantasizing about the wrong person is sin. That’s why Job specifically mentioned ‘neighbour’s wife.’ The Bible warns that even an inappropriate TOUCH will be punished (Prov 6:29). Beware of people who rub against you. Making some SOUND to attract the attention of the neighbour is viewed by God as a punishable offence (Jer 5:8,9). You are responsible for the signals you send. With the advent of the mobile you have to be all the more careful about your voice. Beware of people who call you to enquire your welfare and then gradually go to a personal level and lustful talk. If talking lustfully is sin then hearing and enjoying such talk is also sin. A sharp timely rebuke on the spot may do good to the tempter. 

6. Slander 

Who will dwell with God in His holy hill? “He who does not backbite with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbour” (Psa 15:3). See how important a matter this is (Psa 101:5). We can even destroy our neighbour with our tongue. We know more about their inner life than most. This should not lead us to despise them, rather motivate us to help them (Prov 11:9,12). When we talk to our friends or even in a Prayer Fellowship or around the dining table we easily slander our neighbours. Information that should be kept in our heart for prayer roll off our tongue and others contribute to make it a flowery story. All things need not be shared to our spouses who may pass it on to others, besides corrupting their minds. Certain things need to be buried with us. 

7. Rebuke 

What do we do when our neighbour sins? Giggle behind her back? Shrug our shoulders and go on our way nonchalantly? Ignore it because it is none of our business? Hate him in our hearts? Ostracize him? The thought of rebuking someone may give you the creeps. Well, silence is not always golden. Listen to God’s counsel in this matter: “Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbour frankly so you will not share in his guilt” (Lev 19:17). If we do not act positively when we know our neighbour is in sin, we actually share in his sin and encourage him to continue in his sin. 

First of all we must pray for that neighbour. God should prepare his heart to receive rebuke. Otherwise our attempt will be futile. Next we must pray for ourselves that God will give us the wisdom, humility, gentleness and the right strong words of rebuke. We must go with a good heart of love to turn away our brother/sister from sin. Only then if they heed our rebuke and leave the sin, we will be able to forgive them wholeheartedly. Where there is a heart for reconciliation, there is hearth for relationship. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents forgive him” (Lk 17:3). Nehemiah was at first angry with the nobles. But after thinking it over he called them and rebuked them which led to their repentance (Neh 5:6-12). Jesus did not pamper His disciples but rebuked them when they needed to be straightened out (Lk 9:55). If all of us are bold enough to rebuke and humble enough to accept whiplashes, the believers community will become angels. 

8. Share In Their Joys And Sorrows 

Social connections keep us happier. Friends do not float into your life on a happy cloud of serendipity; you have to make them. Share with your neighbour your joys and partake in their happiness - Hindus or Moslems. Naomi’s neighbours shared her joy when she was blessed with a grandson (Ruth 4:17). When Elizabeth was blessed with a boy baby in her old age, her neighbours celebrated the occasion with her (Lk 1:58). When a lost sheep was found or a lost coin, the owners rejoiced with their neighbours. Our neighbours are worthy of our time. Neighbours are better than brothers and sisters, isn’t it? You can send your special dishes or flowers from your garden. A happy prattle across the compound wall and a little conversation or joke can build a warm camaraderie. “The most beautiful thing you can give another human being is a genuine smile. Live your life by this motto and you will see wonderful results,” says a grandmother. Be a rainbow in your neighbour’s cloud!

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 அனுதின அலங்காரம் (தமிழில்)
   Updated

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      Sep 24, 2021
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  •   I am a Missionary!
      Aug 14, 2018
    1. I am a missionary and so I work for God and not for an organisation. Though I am under the discipline of an organisation, whatever I do, I do with the fear of God. God is my Master and so I subject myself to the leaders. I quell any rebellious spirit t more...
  •   Sewer turned Sower!
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      Jun 25, 2015
    7 Dec 1988 Dear Aunty, It?s been 2 months since we were in touch. I?m saturated with ?news? to give you and nearly bursting with curiosity to hear what?s been happening at your end. The last letter you wrote to me was an eye-opener. To more...
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      Jun 25, 2015
    On the day she arrived, she was at my doorstep! ?Hi aunty? ?Oh Mala, how are you?? She shook my hand so long and hard that it ached, and planted a kiss on my cheek - so unusual of her. ?Why didn?t you write aunty?? ?Oh, I knew you?d be coming soon. So more...
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      Jun 25, 2015
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  • Click here for more 

 Little Stories For Little Hearts

  •   Introduction
      Jun 06, 2013
    Story Behind The Stories more...
  •   001. Is GOD For Real
      Jun 05, 2013
    There were two scientists. One was a believer in the true God and another was an aetheist more...
  •   002.The Language of Love!
      Jun 05, 2013
    A circus was running in town, and crowds elbowed each other to buy tickets. One day an unusual incident happened more...
  • Click here for more 

 Little Stories for Little Hearts Vol 2

  •   001 The Modern Prodigal
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    The Modern Prodigal more...
  •   002 Lower One Foot, Lord!
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    Lower One Foot, Lord! more...
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 Little Stories for Little Hearts Vol 3

  •   094 Ant and Worm
      Jun 01, 2016
    An ant was majestically walking along a forest. She saw a worm crawling. The ant told the worm: ?Look at me. I am so brisk and smart. You should be faster and dress up beautifully. You look ugly.? Despising the worm the ant moved along. more...
  •   095 Diligence Pays
      Jun 01, 2016
    Ragu was very jealous of the humble minister, Ra more...
  •   096 Poor Minister
      Jun 01, 2016
    A poor minister of God used to go to a rich businessman asking for contribution for the work he was doing in villages. The rich man would give excuses and ask hi more...
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 Little Stories for Little Hearts Vol 4

  •   051. Blessed Accident
      Feb 21, 2018
    A sailor wanted to go round the world in a boat and set up a record. Sadly, a storm lashed his boat and it broke to pieces. The sailor swam and reached a small uninhabited island. He ate wild fruits and roots and survived. He made a more...
  •   052. Offense
      Feb 21, 2018
    An elaborate feast was arranged for all the palace staff on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth?s birthday. It was a grand affair. The table was loaded with a variety of dishes. Everybody enjoyed the feast and sat down for dessert. In the meanwhile the table more...
  •   053. Great and Small
      Feb 21, 2018
    A small zero collided with a big zero. ?Don?t you have any sense? Don?t you know I am much bigger than you?? asked the big zero; ?You must be ashamed of yourself.? more...
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Who Is My Neighbour?

Who is my neighbour? If this question is asked to me I may probably answer, “Those who live near my house.” But the Bible has a different answer. My neighbours include those who come to my house like postman, vegetable vendors, sanitary workers, shopkeepers where I shop, colleagues, relatives, those in need of my help (even strangers), family members and my enemies too. 

In Matthew 22:35,36 a teacher of the law asked Jesus, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” In Luke 10:25 a lawyer asked Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life. The answer to both these was the same - 

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘ You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Mt 22:37-40).  

The entire Scripture crystalize to these two commandments

1. Love the Lord 

2. Love your neighbour 

These two commandments are not found in the same place in the Old Testament but in two different places (Dt 6:5; Lev 19:18). Since both Jesus and the lawyer picked up both these verses and presented the combination, I suppose, those days it was in vogue. Maybe the Bible scholars of those days searched the Scriptures high and low to fi nd the answer to this question and picked up these two, out of the innumerable commands from Genesis to Malachi. Some might have suggested the Sabbath as the most important and some others circumcision and still others, burnt offerings and sacrifices (Mk 12:33). But they finally decided it was these two. The Old Testament does not say that if we do these two we will have eternal life. But it was rightly presumed by the teachers. 

Matthew records love for neighbours as, “the second is like it” (Mt 22:39). That means you can’t love God without loving your neighbour and vice - versa. James calls it The Royal Law (Js 2:8). That is how important it is. The Bible is full of commandments from Genesis to Revelation but there is no commandment greater than these (Mk 12:31). We love ourselves with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. So that’s how we must love our neighbours. In both the commandments the central word is “love.”

The lawyer asked another question, “Who is my neighbour?” Jesus told him and the crowd the parable of the Good Samaritan and asked him who was neighbour to the victim. Unhesitantly he replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” He wouldn’t even say, “The Samaritan.” Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.” The Samaritans were called dogs by the Jews and least respected. But it was he who helped the victim. In other words Jesus was telling him to love those whom he considered the least, his worst enemies and strangers on the street, not just his friends, colleagues and acquaintances (Lk 10:25-37). 

Now that we have defined the word “Neighbour,” Let’s go on to see our relationship with our neighbours. 

1. Love 

The quintessence of the whole matter is love. Neighbours may give us trouble and our natural tendency will be to get even, or carry bitterness in our heart against them. The solution is to love them as we love ourselves. Loving your neighbour is “like it” or equal to loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Do you understand the seriousness of loving your neighbour? 

Coming to the New Testament, Jesus goes one step further and says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven’” (Mt 5:43-45). Jesus thus made every fellow human being our neighbour. 

I was surprised that this command is repeated in nine places in the Bible! So you can understand the importance (Lev 19:18; Mt 19:19; 22:39; Mk 12:31,33; Lk 10:27; Rom 13:9; Gal 5:14; Js 2:8). 

How can we love someone as we love ourselves? Is it possible? Jesus gave a pragmatic solution: “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the prophets” (Mt 7:12). In a tight situation take a minute to think, ‘What would I like somebody to do to me if I were in this situation?’ You’ll know what to do to that somebody. Love is something you get in proportion to what you give. “Live without pretending, love without depending, listen without defending, speak without offending” says Aubsey Drake Graham, rapper and singer. 

2. Covet  

Not The Ten Commandments tell us, “You shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his man servant, maid servant, ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour” (Exo 20:17). 

Let’s take the example of partitioning of properties between children. Do I wrongfully make my parents write a will, giving me something which should be rightly bequeathed to my brother or sister? Do I want a lion’s share of the property? Do I instigate my spouse to ask for more? Why should we covet that which my brother or sister should inherit? “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.” Why? “Because” God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Heb 13:5). When God is always with us, what is the need to grab? All the children should sit together and amicably settle the matter. If there is misunderstanding, for God’s sake remember Isaac and give it up. Never have an eye on anything that belongs to somebody. If your desire for what is his becomes intense, it may lead you to defraud him or rob him or even murder him (Lev 19:13; 25:14). We may be tempted to move our boundary stone a wee bit, encroaching on his property; or even the government land (Dt 19:14). 

“Watch out! be on your guard against all kinds greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions,” said Jesus to the man who asked Him to tell his brother to divide the inheritance with him (Lk 12:13-15). 

3. Cheating And Lying

We must be trustworthy people to our neighbours. If we start lying and cheating then the trust is destroyed. “Help, Lord, for the godly are no more; the faithful have vanished from among men. Everyone lies to his neighbour,” laments David (Psalm 12:2). Still worse is the song where he sings, “They speak cordially with their neighbours but harbour malice in their hearts” (28:3). “Friend deceives friend, and no one speaks the truth” (Jer 9:4,5,8). What do you do when people stab you in the back? Decide not to do that to them. 

“I prefer to have too much confidence and thereby be deceived, than to be always mistrustful. For in the first case, I suffer for a moment, and in the second, I suffer constantly,” said someone. God wants us to be straightforward with our neighbours. “Speak the truth to each other” says God (Zech 8:16). Why? We are one body (Eph 4:25). If they are believers then we are cheating ourselves. Love always trusts (1 Cor 13:7). But when your trust is taken advantage of, you tend to mistrust anyone. But always have in mind that it is better to be cheated than to cheat. 

4. Responsibility Towards Our Neighbours 

Because of proximity and trust, neighbours may leave their valuables or children with us when they go out. It is a big responsibility to undertake and we must carefully guard what is entrusted to us. If things are lost or damaged we must make restitution. If you borrow anything from your neighbour be careful to return it undamaged. Maintain your rented house well. When you vacate the house, see that the electricity bill is paid and the house is clean (Exo 22:7-15). 

Whatever you owe to your neighbour give it as early as possible (Pro 3:28). When a worker came to my father for his wages, my father asked him to come the next day. The man went to catch snakes and was bitten by a cobra and died. Those days they used to sell snake skins to make a living. My father was fi lled with remorse because if he had paid the wages that day, he wouldn’t have gone to catch snakes. He could not forgive himself. 

If God has blessed us, it is to build up the people around us (Rom 15:2). We can all share what we have and help our co-passengers in this journey called life. There was no valid reason for the existence of a poor widow who had only a few copper coins for her sustenance, in the huge Jewish congregation at the Jerusalem temple. There was so much teaching for them about the care of widows. Yet, though they were dropping huge amounts for God, nobody turned to see this poor widow. They loved God, but not their neighbour (Lk 21:1-4). Truly they were fi ltering mosquitoes and swallowing camels. They forgot mercy which was foremost. 

Keep a respectable distance. If you frequent their house, you’ll make a nuisance of yourself. Unless you are in dire need, do not borrow from your neighbour money or things (Prov 25:17). That way, relationship with our neighbours will be smooth. 

5. Adultery

Good neighbours are those who talk over the compound wall but do not climb over, they say. We are thrown together too often and too close which may result in an erotic relationship, leading to bitterness and fight that ultimately ends in damaged relationship. “Good fences make good neighbours!” says Robert Frost. When affection turns to passion, you lose your head. Reason then becomes submerged beneath the waves of passion. We must have absolute self-control in matters of sex and not give place to the devil. 

The Bible repeatedly warns us of this sin, starting with the Ten Commandments (Exo 20:17). What happens when you violate God’s principle? You defile yourself (Lev 18:20). Even if you look at a person lustfully with your EYES, you have committed adultery in your HEART, said Jesus (Mt 5:28). One man in the Old Testament who had understood the New Testament message was Job. He made a covenant with his EYES not to look lustfully. He never allowed his HEART to be enticed by a woman. He never lingered around a neighbour’s door to catch a glimpse of the lady. And what severe punishment he called upon himself if he violated his self-imposed discipline! (Job 31:1,9-12). Who demanded him of such strictness? His conscience! Acknowledging that sexual feelings exist is one thing. But fantasizing about the wrong person is sin. That’s why Job specifically mentioned ‘neighbour’s wife.’ The Bible warns that even an inappropriate TOUCH will be punished (Prov 6:29). Beware of people who rub against you. Making some SOUND to attract the attention of the neighbour is viewed by God as a punishable offence (Jer 5:8,9). You are responsible for the signals you send. With the advent of the mobile you have to be all the more careful about your voice. Beware of people who call you to enquire your welfare and then gradually go to a personal level and lustful talk. If talking lustfully is sin then hearing and enjoying such talk is also sin. A sharp timely rebuke on the spot may do good to the tempter. 

6. Slander 

Who will dwell with God in His holy hill? “He who does not backbite with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbour” (Psa 15:3). See how important a matter this is (Psa 101:5). We can even destroy our neighbour with our tongue. We know more about their inner life than most. This should not lead us to despise them, rather motivate us to help them (Prov 11:9,12). When we talk to our friends or even in a Prayer Fellowship or around the dining table we easily slander our neighbours. Information that should be kept in our heart for prayer roll off our tongue and others contribute to make it a flowery story. All things need not be shared to our spouses who may pass it on to others, besides corrupting their minds. Certain things need to be buried with us. 

7. Rebuke 

What do we do when our neighbour sins? Giggle behind her back? Shrug our shoulders and go on our way nonchalantly? Ignore it because it is none of our business? Hate him in our hearts? Ostracize him? The thought of rebuking someone may give you the creeps. Well, silence is not always golden. Listen to God’s counsel in this matter: “Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbour frankly so you will not share in his guilt” (Lev 19:17). If we do not act positively when we know our neighbour is in sin, we actually share in his sin and encourage him to continue in his sin. 

First of all we must pray for that neighbour. God should prepare his heart to receive rebuke. Otherwise our attempt will be futile. Next we must pray for ourselves that God will give us the wisdom, humility, gentleness and the right strong words of rebuke. We must go with a good heart of love to turn away our brother/sister from sin. Only then if they heed our rebuke and leave the sin, we will be able to forgive them wholeheartedly. Where there is a heart for reconciliation, there is hearth for relationship. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents forgive him” (Lk 17:3). Nehemiah was at first angry with the nobles. But after thinking it over he called them and rebuked them which led to their repentance (Neh 5:6-12). Jesus did not pamper His disciples but rebuked them when they needed to be straightened out (Lk 9:55). If all of us are bold enough to rebuke and humble enough to accept whiplashes, the believers community will become angels. 

8. Share In Their Joys And Sorrows 

Social connections keep us happier. Friends do not float into your life on a happy cloud of serendipity; you have to make them. Share with your neighbour your joys and partake in their happiness - Hindus or Moslems. Naomi’s neighbours shared her joy when she was blessed with a grandson (Ruth 4:17). When Elizabeth was blessed with a boy baby in her old age, her neighbours celebrated the occasion with her (Lk 1:58). When a lost sheep was found or a lost coin, the owners rejoiced with their neighbours. Our neighbours are worthy of our time. Neighbours are better than brothers and sisters, isn’t it? You can send your special dishes or flowers from your garden. A happy prattle across the compound wall and a little conversation or joke can build a warm camaraderie. “The most beautiful thing you can give another human being is a genuine smile. Live your life by this motto and you will see wonderful results,” says a grandmother. Be a rainbow in your neighbour’s cloud!

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Dr. Lilian Stanley
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