Who are your neighbors? Do you know your neighbors? Do you love your neighbors?
Most of us, when asked those questions will instantly think about the people who live next door. But long ago the term 'Next Door Neighbor' came into being because people understood that it wasn't only the people who lived near you that were your neighbors...but the people who live near are more specifically your neighbors next door.
Neighbors are, in fact, anyone you come in contact with at any given time, or as one dictionary put it, Your fellow man. Anyone and everyone is your neighbor.
Jesus said in Matthew 22:39 "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."
Notice, in that whole verse there is no specifics given as to what a neighbor is. Jesus does not say, "Love your neighbors who think like you." or "Love your neighbors who have the same skin color." or "Love your neighbor who isn't gay."
Jesus says to Love your neighbor as you love yourself...period. End of sentence. And neighbor meaning your fellow man means every man. Even those you can't stand. Even those who believe completely different than you. Even those who are gay, or black, or white, or Hispanic, or Asian. Even the ones who are Hindus, or Muslims, or Atheists.
Love your neighbor...period!
How do you love yourself? You do whatever is in your power to make sure you have a roof over your head, food on your table, clothes on your body, and shoes on your feet. You do all you can to make sure you have electricity, a running car, and a job. And you probably try really hard to make sure you have some of the little extras...a cell phone, a TV, Cable, Internet access...etc.
You love yourself by making sure you're provided for.
So if you see a neighbor- Mr. or Mrs. Other Person besides you- without shoes in the winter, without food, without a roof...you have been commanded to love that person as you love yourself.
You say, "But I'm broke." or "It's the end of the month and I'm really tapped out." Or "I don't have time."
Do you think Jesus WANTED to die an agonizing death on the cross for you? Don't you think He could have probably found much less horrible things to be doing at that particular time? But no, He didn't make excuses. He loved you- His neighbor- enough to put His own desires, His own life, aside and do what was best for you...can we do any less for our neighbors in need?
Take some time each day to love a neighbor. Buy a police officer a coffee and offer a smile. Offer an elderly or disabled person a hand unloading their grocery cart into their car. Tell a frustrated mom with screaming kids that it's going to be okay and offer a sympathetic hug or word of encouragement. Loving your neighbor doesn't have to cost a lot or even anything. And if it costs something...God will provide.