Do not plan harm against your neighbor who lives trustingly beside you.
Galatians 6:10 (NIV)
As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people.
We recently moved to a new house and have had the opportunity to meet some very kind neighbors. Most of them have very busy lives – as do we – so we haven’t had a lot of opportunity to get well acquainted. But we have made some inroads. We’ve learned names, Charlie, Peggie, Curtis, Mary, S.P., Philip, Andrea, and Sandi to name a few. We have yet to learn their stories. That’s the next step for us, and we look forward to cultivating good relationships with these folks as time goes on.
We need not wait to learn the stories or even the names of people whose paths we cross before we help those who are in need. If the wind blows their trash into the street we can pick it up. If their tree limbs fall and put them in danger we can offer help. If their lawn mower breaks down we can mow their grass.
This is what Jesus taught in the story of the Good Samaritan. It is what God wants his people to be known for through all time. While worship and Bible study prepare us for life, the proof of that preparation is in lives well lived with our neighbor. That was Jesus’ model – shown in the feeding of the 5000, the healing of the bent-over woman and a host of other hands-on ministry he performed.
I’ll never undercut the importance of worship, Bible study, prayer, and all manner of spiritual training. But unless such disciplines work themselves out in real ways we will short-circuit God’s intent for our daily lives and dim our witness to God’s gift of abundant life through faith in Jesus Christ.