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How to Love Your Neighbor from a Distance – Rick Warren

“If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right.”

James 2:8 (NIV)

Garage door openers are a wonderful convenience, aren’t they? When you come home after a long day at work, you can just drive right in and close the door, ensuring you don’t have to see another soul before you reach the comfort of your home.
But during a pandemic—and anytime, really—that convenience can keep Christians from following one of the most basic commands in the Bible: “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right” (James 2:8 NIV).

Love your neighbor as yourself. It’s such a simple command, yet most Americans don’t even know their neighbors—and you can’t love somebody you don’t know.

Did you know that God enjoys watching the people he created have fellowship with each other? In Zechariah 3:10, he says, “Each of you will invite your neighbor to come and enjoy peace and security, surrounded by your vineyards and fig trees” (GNT).

You probably don’t have vineyards in your backyard, but you might have a tree in your apartment common area. Maybe there are even benches! Or if you live in the suburbs, you might have a flower garden, a fire pit, or just a patch of grass. The point is not to have a pretty place to offer, but to make the choice to be friendly and get to know your neighbors.

This is a unique time that offers a lot of opportunities to get to know the people around you. You already know most people are at home right now. And, they’re also exercising outside more. Why not just sit on your front porch, wave, and even greet the people going by? You never know when a friendly gesture might eventually lead to spiritual conversations.

Do you have a yard project? Take your time so you can be present and make more connections with your neighbors. Go to the dog park and make it a point to talk to at least one person while you’re there. Offer to share a puzzle or a board game with your neighbor. Are you grilling or making s’mores? Move it to the front yard, and share with your neighbors. Do you normally run or jog? Consider walking more and leaving your earbuds at home so it’s easier to start conversations.

It may seem counterintuitive to get closer to people when you should be keeping your distance. But there are so many ways to love your neighbor, even when you’re six feet apart.

Don’t let the current circumstances be your excuse not to follow God’s command to love your neighbor. Make 2020 count by reaching out, opening up, and sharing life with your neighbors so they can one day share eternity with you.

Talk It Over

Have you been reaching out to your neighbors during this time? If not, what is one way you can start today?
Have you looked at this year as something to “just get through” or even a waste? How will your mindset change if you instead focus on the kingdom of God and making friends for eternity?
What are some other ways you can be friendly with your neighbors that may be unique to your situation?

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