By: Pauline Lee
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In Lev 19:18 God commands us to "... love your neighbour as yourself". This was reiterated by Jesus in Matt 19:19 "...and love your neighbour as yourself." Again in Rom 13:9 the same message was "...'Love your neighbour as yourself'". There are many verses in the bible about God's instruction to us to love our "neighbours" as ourselves. Webster's dictionary defines "neighbour" as one of human race or a fellow being. In other sources, "neighbour" is referred to - situated near one another.
I have been brought up in a humble middle-class district where neighbourly kindness and friendliness were assumed by most. My parents still live there now. The neighbours are forever helpful, and forgiving. I thank the Lord God for His kind provision of such friends. This was indeed a tremendous blessing to my family. Perhaps it was also a trait prevalent in this smaller town where I come from.
I have moved several times after I started working in the city. The first was in a suburban 2-bedroom house I rented about 40 km from the city centre. The neighbours were very gentle and kind though most of them were from the lower middle class income. When I got married, we moved into another suburban home about 30 km from the city. This was a middle class district. Although the neighbours were less chatty, they were mostly very earnest towards one another. I could still describe them as really nice people. A year ago, we bought a condominium in the city. It was home to the upper middle class, wealthy socialites, and foreign expatriates of which all was meaningless to us. We just wanted a place convenient in the city where we could spend less time travelling. It was also here that I learnt about neighbours who cared less for anyone. Mornings when I had to go for my groceries and came back with half a dozen bags of foodstuffs, the neighbours would just stare at me in the elevators and corridors as if they had seen a ghost. I would struggle with the bags while trying to hold the elevator doors, yet the neighbours would watch in disapproval. But I learnt not to care about their proud habits. I would ride the elevator with the cleaners, smile and talk to them, converse with the security people, and even gave things to them.
I also felt the Lord granting me a lesson on loving neighbours. When people are nice and easy to love, the test will not prevail. But when everyone seems so distant from my heart, it is when the Lord awaits me to make the difference. As I remain in the Holy Spirit and ask for His divine intervention to break that struggle I have with loving unkind neighbours, the more I experienced awkward circumstances. My husband told me it was best to leave them alone if they desired such. He said, "When people don't want to be loved and don't want to love, it is when their hearts are hard and selfish. They think they have everything to solve their problems and don't need friends to fill their lives."
This experience also reminds me of people's relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus died on the cross for the people's sake. Yet they rejected Him. Are you facing such neighbours today? Do you have people in your workplace who are not responding to your good intentions? I urge my brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for "neighbours". If we love them yet are unable to reach them in our own strength, let God be the one to bind their hearts. Amen.