Too Busy to Be a Neighbor?

I was home with two kids under five years old. My bride was shopping. The TV was on. We were playing on the floor. The night was interrupted by the doorbell.  I picked up a squirming two year old and opened the door.  It was Peter, the guy who rented the other side of the duplex next door. It wasn’t unusual. We had a good connection but this time he was troubled. With slow, soft words he explained that he just received a phone call. His father had died in Massachusetts.

I asked him to come in. We turned down the TV and tried to talk over the kids. It was not easy. On one hand two kids were needing my attention. On the other hand Peter needed attention. After some uncomfortable moments Peter decided to leave. After the kids went to sleep I knocked on his door. His wife told me he was sleeping. They were leaving early to drive back to Massachusetts.

A week or so later they returned. Peter wasted no time finding me. He told me how disappointed he was in me. At the moment he desperately needed help I was mostly pre-occupied.  

It was true. I offered no practical help. I didn’t comfort him with words from the Bible. I didn’t turn off the TV. I didn’t put my kids in another room for even a few minutes. I didn’t get up and see him off in the morning.

I failed my neighbor. No excuse would suffice. He did me a favor by pointing out my flaws.

That event took place about 35 years ago but it lingers in my mind. If I could go back in time……

Since then I’ve read carefully how Jesus treated people. True, he accomplished many miraculous things. But it wasn’t so much about what Jesus did. It was more about what Jesus was.

We worry about doing, he wants us to focus on being.


Be concerned for one another. Hebrews 10:24

Be humble to one another. Ephesians 4:2

Be compassionate to one another. Ephesians 4:32

Be at peace with one another. Romans 12:18

Be kind to one another. Ephesians 4:32

Be patient with one another. Ephesians 4:2

Be interested in one another. Philippians 2:4.

The above list requires no advance degree. It doesn’t require a workout routine or certain kind of uniform or diet.

Good neighboring means being. If you can be the right kind of character you’ll likely do the right things.

Peter forced me to take a good look at myself. Busy, pre-occupied, unfocused, wrapped up in my own cocoon of concerns.

Lord help me to BE your guy in this world.