My Example to My Neighbors
See full series: lights-in-a-dark-world-2019
My Example to My Neighbors
Sermon by Thomas Thornhill Jr
Sunday, September 8, 2019 am
LIGHTS IN A DARK WORLD (30)
Is Your Light Shining In Your Neighborhood?
We are in the midst of examining how we are to be examples in every area of our lives. Last month we focused on social media and the internet. Today, we want to talk about being a good neighbor and then some other elements associated with society.
I. Evangelism and our neighbors
- A part of shining as lights is to win others to the truth. Our goal is that others will glorify God and hopefully in the process become His disciples as well. Matthew 5:13-16 bears this out. 1 Corinthians 14:25 speaks of influence within an assembly. If the unbeliever comes him, if what he observes is orderly and truthful, he might be “cut to the heart” and fall down before God and worship Him.
- Your best prospects are those you are close to. Does this include your neighbors? In virtually every study of success in evangelism, the personal appeal is overwhelmingly the greatest source of prospects, local visitors and converts (high percentages came as a result of friends and neighbors inviting them). Consider that they come where they know somebody. Of course the exception is when one is looking for something specific and investigating (often fellow Christians who are relocating, visiting while in the area, etc.).
- But how do you develop opportunities? It has to do with being a proper example. In this case, being a good neighbor. Consider 1 Peter 3:1-2 which speaks of believing wives with unbelieving husbands – how can you win them? By chaste conduct accompanied with fear (reverence). Let me ask, does that same influence apply in other places? Does it apply as we mingle in society and in our neighborhoods? Absolutely. That is why we are to be examples in EVERY area of our lives. Philippians 2:15.
II. Who is my neighbor?
- Luke 10:27-29. An occasion where a lawyer tests Jesus asking him what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus asking him, “What does the law tell you to do?” He replies correctly with the first and second commandments (Matthew 22:37-39). Jesus affirms. But then the lawyer, “seeking to justify himself” asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Jesus proceeds to tell the parable of the Good Samaritan. In this parable we find our answer to “Who is my neighbor?” It is ANYONE you come across that you have opportunity to do good for – physically or spiritually. While not limited to our neighborhood, it would certainly include that.
- Love your neighbor as yourself – a statement that quoted several times in the NT.
- Consider Matthew 22:39, Romans 13:9 – all are summed up in this, Galatians 5:14 – law is fulfilled in one word, even in this…, James 2:8 – fulfill the royal law according to scripture.
- It is fundamental to dealings with others. And in a sense it summarizes everything about how we are to treat our neighbors. Let the love of a Christian be that which influences how you act toward others.
- To what degree are we to show this love? Even as you love yourself. That ought to be a pretty high standard. The point is we take care of ourselves and do what is best for us (cf. Ephesians 5:28-29). Do we think about that with our neighbors?
III. Qualities of being a good neighbor
- Love them as previous noted. You realize they have a soul and you ought to be concerned about that. That is why you let your light shine. That is why you try to be the best example you can be to them.
- Proper decorum – be a good neighbor. Well kept, cleanliness, etc. as much as possible Are you an asset to the neighborhood?
In many neighborhoods, there are the neighbors who take pride in where they live, and those who don’t. Others are somewhere in between. DON’T be the undesirable neighbor.
Romans 13:13 – walk properly, as in the day. Properly means characterized by proper manners and conduct. Found also in 1 Thessalonians 4:12 – walk properly toward those who are outside
(Also 1 Corinthians 14:40 – in the worship, let all things be done decently and in order).
Do whatever will give you opportunity to let your light shine and present a positive light of being a Christian.
- Be respectful – again, we know of neighbors who live for themselves and don’t care about how their actions reflect on others. We have heard of the bad neighbors who are always causing trouble and are antagonistic. They engage in bad behavior whether it be ungodly attitudes or sinful actions. There are neighbors that no one is sorry to see them go.
That should NOT be the Christian.
- Romans 12:17-18 – as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
- Become “all things to all men” 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 – be aware of their culture, etc. and be respectful of that.
- Watch your attitude – repay no one evil for evil (Romans 12:17), do not avenge yourselves (12:19). Colossians 3:12 – put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, etc.
1 Corinthians 13:4-6 describes our love. After mentioning longsuffering and kindness, we notice a number of “does not” statements – does not envy, parade itself, is not puffed up, does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in truth… and it never fails.
- Speak truthfully to your neighbor – Ephesians 4:25 – speak truth…don’t lie. Be honorable and dependable. Be one that you are known for keeping your word.
- Watch your language – Proverbs 11:9, The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor, But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered.
Proverbs 11:12, He who is devoid of wisdom despises his neighbor, But a man of understanding holds his peace.
- Do not engage in ungodliness – NOTE: Ephesians 4:25-32 give a number of descriptions of behaviors that govern our lives.
Psalm 15:3 – a quality of those who will dwell in the presence of God. He does not backbite with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor…
Proverbs 3:29, Do not devise evil against your neighbor, For he dwells by you for safety’s sake.
Romans 13:10, Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
- Romans 15:2, Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. This summarizes this point!
- Remember our goal is to make Christianity as attractive as possible to them. 1 Peter 2:12 – conduct honorable among the gentiles,…by you good works, perhaps they will glorify God.
- Be benevolent – are you a caring neighbor? Are you willing to help one who is in need?
Galatians 6:10 – as we have opportunity, let us do good to all. That was the point of the Good Samaritan.
1 John 3:17-18 – while addressing your “brother in need”, is there an application for all (especially when we define the question, “Who is my neighbor?”).
Hebrews 13:2 – do not forget to entertain strangers, they may be “angels”
James 1:27 – help the needy.
I also think of the compassion of Jesus and what He did for “his neighbor” – he healed, fed, encouraged, etc.
Many examples in Acts show those who were full of good works – Acts 9:36-42 finds Dorcas (Tabitha) who was full of good works and charitable deeds. When Peter came, they showed him some of her labors.
Cornelius was a good man who gave alms generously to the people – Acts 10:1-2. God noticed.
One of the best ways to open doors and become a good neighbor is to help them in whatever way you can. WARNING: Don’t let this be the only reason you help them! Be genuine in this.
- Pray for them – 2 Timothy 2:1-2 – pray for all men. We constantly mention prayer.
- Proverbs 25:17 – Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house, Lest he become weary of you and hate you. “Don’t wear out your welcome”. In conclusion I mention this. Use wisdom in dealing with your neighbors. You will develop closer relationships with some than with others. That is ok. But know when what you are doing is too much.
We have emphasized how being a Christian involves holy living (set apart and different). We cannot emphasize enough how your daily spiritual habits will have an impact on everyone and everything you do. People are watching, and at that includes our neighbors. Is your light shining in your neighborhood?