What IS a neighbor?

I have a friend who gives me a hard time because when I introduce her to someone I tell them this “my neighbor, Melanie.” For some strange reason she thinks thinks this is a true indication of the level of our friendship. Now we all have levels of friendships– best friends, friends, co-workers, acquaintances. What is the highest level of friendship? We can have a neighbor or we can have “my neighbor!” My neighbor has a key to my house, my neighbor brings me books at 11 pm when I finished one book in the series and can’t wait for the next. My neighbor is welcome to come and get anything she might need out of my house (like my brown stools) and I have no clue they are gone. My neighbor, when I have a migraine, picks me up and takes me to the doctor then puts me in bed when I get home and adds blankets to the windows so it is really dark. My neighbor picks up my kids when I can’t make it to school on time or it is snowing and I don’t want them to walk home in it. My neighbor is on speed dial and gets about 12 calls a day on the average. My neighbor and I can vehemently disagree on something and still love each other. My neighbor and I can solve the world’s problems in one single phone call.

In the Old Testament, neighbor is used figuratively of a fellow Israelite. (Ex. 2:13;I Sam. 28:17). In Harper’s Bible Dictionary, a neighbor is defined “as members of a community united by divine covenant, law, and teaching, the Israelites’ obligations to God were reflected in their moral obligations to each other.”

Now, I must say that is what a neighbor is to me! It is WAY more than living next to each other! It is a covenant, more than a friendship. It is a promise to each other that we will be there when we are needed.

The dictionary goes on to state our duties to our neighbors: “They were to be ‘a kingdom of priests and a holy nation’ (Exod. 19:6). Thus, they were commanded concerning each other not to covet their neighbor’s wife or possessions (Exod. 20:16-17; Deut. 5:20-21); not to hold a neighbor’s garment for pledge past sunset (Exod. 22:25-26); not to steal, deal deceitfully, swear falsely (Lev. 19:11), or defraud (v. 13); not to gossip, or to be passive while injustice is being done to another (v. 16); not to hate one another (v. 17), to avenge or bear a grudge (v. 18), to take usury (Lev. 25:36-37), or to enslave (v. 39); not to oppress (vv. 43, 46), to withhold loans or charity (Deut. 15:7-11), or to ignore a neighbor’s stray animal or lost property (Deut. 22:1-4). The Israelites were obligated to each other for the property placed in one’s care (Exod. 22:6-14), ‘to love your neighbor as yourself’ (Lev. 19:18), to help the poor through free loans (Lev. 25:35), or hiring the poor for pay (vv. 39-40), and the like. One who has harmed his neighbor will be punished in kind (Lev. 24:19-20, 22). God will destroy those who slander their neighbors (Ps. 101:5; cf. Prov. 11:9). To despise one’s neighbor is to be devoid of wisdom (Prov. 11:12) and to sin (14:21). According to Zechariah 3:10, in the messianic age neighbors shall dwell together in peace.”

I think I have well defended my case of what a “neighbor” is! Now, I have to send this to her because she edits all my posts before I can put them online. (I have a BIG problem with run on sentences. What can I say? I write like I talk!)

Enjoy your neighbors today!


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