LWe all have them. Neighbors can make our lives easier or difficult. Some of us smile and wave at them as we pull our cars into the garage. We may have formed close relationships; maybe others not so much. Yet, we are called by Jesus to love our neighbors.
Love isn’t determined by where we live, but how we respond to God’s presence in our lives. God sent his son so we could experience deep, abiding love in every circumstance. To love like Jesus is to give without expecting anything in return. That takes courage and strength. Here are a few intentional ways to make sure love abides in your neighborhood.
Speak Words that Build Love
When you speak with your neighbors, take care with your choice of words. Are you speaking words of respect and kindness? Are you lifting up your neighbors? Philippians 2:3-4 tells us to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.”We live in a world that caters to our natural instinct to exalt ourselves, yet we are called by Christ to break out of the mold and speak words of love, encouragement and strength over others. Humanity is crying out to be nurtured. There are plenty of opportunities to use your words to promote encouragement during any given day.
Build a Neighborhood that Promotes Love
One of the best ways to love our neighbors is to see them, really open our eyes and look past the surface smiles and the “How are you’s?” Turning our focus on others takes practice and intention. When we follow the leadings of the Holy Spirit, we will walk through our neighborhood, not with an attitude of “Here I am!” God calls us to be “There you are!” people. When you get beyond the superficial, love has endless ways of being expressed. We all have the same mission: love. And yet, how we fulfill this mission varies with each one of us. God will use your strengths, skills, gifts, experiences, and resources to touch the lives of others in ways only you can.
We can pray to God daily by asking: “How do you want to say ‘I Love You’ through me?”It’s a question that brings God joy to answer. Because wherever you are and whoever you’re with, there will always be a new way to say “I love you.” We never may never know who needs us to show up at their doorstep with a casserole, a gallon of milk or even just a friendly word without God pointing us in their direction. The question is: Are we paying attention to God’s promptings? Have we made ourselves available to follow his suggestions?
Be a Woman Who Promotes Love
The way we spend our love is the way we spend our lives. Do we care enough to love those around us as though we really belong to each other? And can we dare to believe these small gestures of specific care and well-timed warmth are enough to alter the path of mankind? If we want our world to be overflowing with love, we have to go out and love the people around us. We need to invite them into our hearts. Serve them with there is a crisis. Invite them over to share a meal. Tend their gardens when they are ill. Sit and listen, really listen, to a friend who needs a shoulder to cry on, showing acceptance and love even in her brokenness.
Today, as you drive through your neighborhood, ask yourself, “Do I truly love the people that live in that house? Or that one over there?” If love doesn’t grab a hold of your heart, make the decision to be a woman who doggedly pursues love in your neighborhood by starting today.