PSALM 126:5–6 – Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.
THEME OF THE DAY. A NEIGHBORHOOD WALK. As I walked my dog early this morning and Jake made his customary “sniffing stops”, I glanced around the neighborhood and thought about my neighbors. There is a home of a couple with young children who are going through a painful divorce. On the other side of the street, the homeowners are helping raise their unwed daughter’s son. Not far from them is a young career couple who recently moved into the neighborhood and the wife is laid up for a month due to surgery. Further down the street lives an elderly woman who used to walk the neighborhood daily but is now homebound. Right across the street from her is a home where a young man struggled mightily with drug addiction. And then there are way too many neighbors I sadly confess and to my shame, I don’t really know.
As my walk with my dog Jake continued, one persistent truth kept coming to my mind. It was Job’s words from the Old Testament book under the title of his name – Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble (Job 14:1). I was reminded again no one is immune to trouble. No one, Christian or non-Christian, escapes suffering, pain, and difficulties in life. Not me. Not you. Not my neighbors. But quickly another thought came upon me with force. There is nothing or no one in this life that can give hope in difficult times and strength in tough relationships. Only one place, or I should say, “Person”, is able to equip people, including me, including you, and including my neighbors to handle life without despair. His name is Jesus Christ. However, this morning of revelation wasn’t over. One more thought came to me with force, clarity, and conviction. I didn’t get a vision or hear a voice from heaven, though it sure seemed like a “Word from the Lord.” It was in the form of two questions – “Do your neighbors know by word and acts of loving deeds to them you are a Christian, a follower of Christ?” and “Do you love your neighbors with Christ’s love that leads you to serve them, know them, and share your life and Christ’s life with them?” These questions dug deep into my soul. They might do so to you as well. I hope so. Right outside the doors of our home is a mission field. We own it. We live where God has placed us for His purposes and one of them is to be a witness for His Son and His Gospel. And that ties into the scripture of the day.
Think about your neighbors as I continue to think of mine. Do we care enough about them to know them? Do we care enough about them to get into their lives beyond a wave as we drive by their homes and see them? Do we care enough about them to see them as image-bearers of God desperately in need of the Gospel? Do we care enough about them to pray for opportunities to befriend them like Jesus and build “redemptive relationships” with them? We simply cannot claim to care about people, care about reaching the lost, and cry out to God to reach the world and neglect our “little worlds” in our neighborhoods. Such attitudes are dangerously close to hypocrisy.
Well, my walk ended. I pray the lessons I was given about caring for people won’t be forgotten but become actions right in my neighborhood to my neighbors in need of Christ.
PRAYER: “Father, forgive me when I am so wrapped up in my own world, I neglect the souls of others.”
QUOTE: “If we don’t care for the souls of people, we are far from having the heart of our Lord.”