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How to Love Your Neighbor

Posted on September 10, 2023

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How to Love Your Neighbor

Ezekiel 33:7-11

Psalm 119:33-40

Romans 13:8-14

Matthew 18:15-20

Who among you knows what happened on February 19, 1968? This day was the day that a very special show debuted on national television. This show was unique in comparison to the bombardment of all of the other content presented on television. It was a time of worry about mental health in children and the health of the family unit. Television became a tool to expose people and children especially to slap stick comedy or really violence even within animated content. Imagine if they could see what children are exposed to today. However, one man had a calling to stand in the gap for children in North America. This man became famous as he was aired for 30 some years and he won the hearts of children by providing them a place of safety and love for 30 minutes each day. This man spent each episode explaining to children just how special they are the way they are and how there is no one in the world just like them. Every day he would welcome these children by singing, “It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood a beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine? Could you be mine?” Yes, the man I am talking about is Fred Rogers. A man who taught children what it means to be a good neighbor by being a good neighbor himself and loving his neighbor. So, the question for us today now as he has now been with the Lord for the past 20 years, is how do we love our neighbor?

To answer that question, I think it is also important for us to first define who our neighbor is. Fred Rogers also answers that question for us too as well does our scriptures for today. However, Mister Rogers viewed everyone as his neighbor. Any one whom he would come in contact with would be considered his neighbor. Every child or parent that would watch his show was his neighbor. So, who is and should be our neighbor then as followers of Christ? The answer is everyone.

How do we love our neighbor though. I had a conversation with someone yesterday when they asked me what I was going to be preaching about and I was told that it certainly was not an easy thing to do. In some cases, I suppose they are right. If we live by the flesh and understand that we are humans with flaws we must understand that it is not necessarily natural or easy for us to love our neighbors. It is a choice that we have to make. However, there are many reasons for why we should love them still even when it is hard to do so and the way in which we love them through our actions and our words.

Ezekiel 33:7-11 explains how Ezekiel was called to be a watchman to warn people of the danger that they were in. Ezekiel was supposed to warn his neighbors when they were doing evil of the coming wrath of the Lord for the Lord is righteous and will not put up with evil forever. Ezekiel is charged to warn the people and if he would not warn the people then they would surely die in their sins and he too would be held accountable for their death because he would not warn them when told to do so. By not helping his neighbors to see their wicked ways he would be causing harm to them and he would be held accountable because in his heart he would be showing enmity towards his neighbors which is equally just as bad as their own sins of evil. However, if he does warn them and they still refuse to listen then they will still die in their sins and be punished but the one who is charged to warn them will be saved for they gave the warning that would save them. The Lord takes no delight in punishing anyone for he would rather that they repent and turn from their evil ways. However, how can they have a chance to unless someone warns them? Though it might feel uncomfortable, warning your neighbor when they are in danger is showing love and not warning them shows hatred. However, we are called to love.

In our passage in Romans, we are told that love is the fulfillment of the law. The law says that we are not to steal, not to murder, and not to commit adultery. Therefore, the law is summed up like this, love your neighbor. How can you love your neighbor if you steal from them, kill them, or commit heinous sexual crimes against them? You may say to yourself that you have never stolen from anyone, killed anyone, or ever committed adultery. However, have you ever thought in your heart about doing such things? If your heart desires to do wickedness then it is the same as being wicked itself. By not fulfilling the law in action or in heart we are not showing love to our neighbor.

Have you ever met a person that you just really do not like and who does not seem to like you either? In your mind there may be no reason that you have caused for them not to like you. Yet they are still difficult towards you. I experienced this before in the work place. There was one fellow employee that for whatever reason just had a problem with me. Of course, they seemed to have a problem with everyone. Sadly, I never was able to figure out what it was that I did to cause so much enmity between us. To be honest I didn’t like them either because of how they treated me and I really did not try to hard to figure out what it was that I did to cause this problem. I may not have done anything and it could have just been them that was the problem but I will never know now because they were fired from their position before I could do so.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 18 that if a brother or neighbor if you will, sins against you then you are to point out the fault to them just between the two of you. This means don’t go gossiping about them with other people about what they did so bad against you therefore causing problems with other people against them when the situation has nothing to do with that other person. Therefore, keep the problem just between the two of you. If you are able to resolve your differences great, you have then won your neighbor over and you can live peacefully together. However, if they do not listen to you then take one or two other witnesses with you so that they can see that it is not just you who is bringing this charge against them. Hopefully they will see their wrongs and turn away from it so that the relationship can be reconciled. If they still do not listen then it is time to bring the situation up to the church as a whole. If they still do not listen then we are to let them go in their wickedness and treat them as any other sinner that we decide not to associate with. However, the process that Jesus outlines is to bring justice for yourself while still loving your neighbor. At no time during this process are you slandering this person’s name or causing gossip about them or trying to cause harm towards them for revenge. You are showing love by attempting to reconcile with them through also seeking justice for yourself.

There are going to be people in this world whom you just cannot seem to get along with. Some whom you just do not like yourselves because of how they act or what they say. However, we are called to love them still just the same. They are your neighbor whether you like it or not. We show love not by letting them walk all over you though. We show love by trying to help them see how they are wronging you so that they can also behave well in their life and be saved from their wickedness. If you have the message of salvation and yet do not share it with your neighbor, are you showing love to your neighbor? We will be held accountable on judgment day for not showing love towards our neighbors. Even with the difficult ones. Therefore, let us be united then in the bond of love and love those who we find difficult to love.