Matney: Giving thanks for love and kindness in the neighborhood (column)
Recently, I shared with some neighbors about my column in the Vail Daily on the second Sunday of each month. I told them I was writing about spiritual issues. Bruce said: “I thought you were going to write about our great neighborhood.” I said, “That’s an excellent idea, I’ll do that.”
Just then, as we stood there talking, another neighbor, Chris, came walking down the street. He told us that another neighbor, Dan, had just cut his fingers badly and Chris was on his way to bandage Dan’s fingers. Dan had to have surgery, and over the next week, several of us shoveled snow for Dan, fixed soup for him and checked on him from time to time.
We do have a great neighborhood. We share the duties of keeping our sidewalks cleared of snow. Jim fixed the tires on my snowblower and helped change the spark plugs on Bruce’s snowmobile. Josh and Julie, neighbors on the other side, help us too. Julie is the mother of two small children but she blows the snow from our sidewalks from time to time.
Another neighbor had to have surgery last summer and I was able to mow her lawn. Her immediate neighbor keeps her snow cleared. When a large limb from my trees fell across the neighbor’s fence, another neighbor loaned me his chainsaw to remove the limb. On Easter and at other times, we find little bags of candy on our doors and we know that Christine has been by.
Neighborhoods are spiritual places. There can be love and kindness at work in our communities, or, sadly, there can be hate, pride, prejudice, and conflict of all kinds. Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39). We have to work at it because there is always the potential for conflict over parking spaces, who cleaned the walks last, noise, lights, dogs, kids, etc. Thankfully, in the 20 plus years that I’ve lived here, we’ve not let those conflicts develop. I honor my neighbors for their thoughtfulness and kindness.
In Luke 10, Jesus defines a neighbor. He tells the story of a man who was robbed and beaten and left for dead beside the road. Several people saw the poor man but passed by on the other side of the road. A Samaritan man had pity on him, administered first aid, took him into town, paid for the man’s room, cared for him and paid the innkeeper for extra expenses. Jesus asked who the neighbor was: It was the man who helped the other man in need.
On another occasion, Jesus was asked which was the greatest commandment. In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus replies: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Paul the Apostle sums it up in the commandments: You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet, and whatever other commands there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:9-10).
Following the teachings of Jesus makes so much sense. God is good and if each person will determine to love God and love their neighbors, we can all experience a little bit of heaven on earth. Heavenly Father, may thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth, even as it is in heaven. Let it begin in me and in my neighborhood, Amen.
Dan Matney is the pastor at New Life Assembly of God in Avon. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.