Summary: Wise people relate to their neighbors with helpfulness, peace, justice, and kindness.

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Title: Like a Good Neighbor

Text: Proverbs 3:27-35; 4:21

Truth: Wise people relate to their neighbors with helpfulness, peace, justice and kindness.

Aim: To encourage improvement of relationships with others by the practice of Christian virtues.

Life ?: What godly virtues are we to model as Christian neighbors?


Harold Jones was a respected South Carolina football coach in the 1970’s. He put his reputation on the line by extending kindness to an illiterate, mentally challenged young black man. Coach Jones sees him, day after day, pushing a shopping cart filled with simple treasures past the practice field. After his players abuse the poor guy by tying him up and locking him in an equipment shed, Jones becomes more intimately involved in mentoring the boy, who becomes known as Radio (so nicknamed for his passion for radios and Motown music).

Radio lives on the outskirts of town with his loving mother. She describes him as the “same as everybody else, just a bit slower than most.” Coach Jones makes him a team manager. He’s given a place of honor along the sidelines. During home games he whips the crowd up with his contagious enthusiasm. He even begins to attend high school and makes the morning announcements over the PA system.

Some cruel and heartless people mock and try to marginalize Radio rather than understand him or show him compassion. Coach Jones’ loyalty is challenged more than once but he stands his ground. We learn of a time in the coach’s life when he should have helped someone but didn’t. He confesses his regret, but he learned his lesson.

The movie Radio is based on a true story. In the end this coach’s example of helpfulness and kindness changes a whole community in the way they treat people that usually are cast aside. It’s a modern day parable of the “Good Samaritan.” (Colson, 10/23/03; PluggedIn movie review)

We’re told that Coach Jones and James Robert Kennedy are still friends to this day. Coach Jones illustrated the godly virtues we are to model as Christian neighbors. The Bible defines our neighbor as anyone in need that we can help.

Chapter three of Proverbs stresses three major themes: It is wise to trust God (vss. 1-12); it is wise to value wisdom (vss. 13-20); and it is wise to be kind to others (vss. 21-35). This morning we are concentrating on the last part of chapter three.

To improve our relationship with others…


Proverbs 3:27-31 presents a series of instructions regarding neighborliness. All the instructions are stated negatively. In fact, in the original each verse begins “Do not.” A negative command is clearer than a positive command. Which would be clearer to a small child: “I want you to play in the yard” or “Do not go into the street”?

Bible scholars understand v. 27 in one of two ways. Literally it reads, “Do not withhold good from its owners.” In other words, pay your obligations. In that day a laborer was paid daily. He needed the money to buy food for that day or the next. If a man has worked for us then we owe him the money.

The other way Bible scholars tell us this passage can be understood is to not withhold help from a needy person when we have the means to meet that need. It teaches the general idea of being generous with our neighbor.

Either way we are encouraged to not fail in doing good to others. We are to be helpful to people in need.

Paul said in Galatians 6:10, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”

Verse 28 stresses doing good to others immediately. The emphasis is not just on immediately meeting the need but the injustice when we can do something and we don’t. In Luke 10 Jesus tells the story of the “Good Samaritan.” The condemnation of the priest and scribe is not just that they didn’t help, but they didn’t help in the critical need of that man at that moment.

A veteran Buffalo, N.Y. police officer found the handwritten note on the ice along with a brown wallet and a baseball cap with a pen stuck through it. The note was short and to the point, “Please tell my parents I’m sorry.” A 48-year-old man in a thin blue jacket, on a cold, March afternoon, had secured the note to the ice and waded into the 33-degree river.

He had stepped into the river at Niagara Falls! The average depth is 16 feet and it flows at 20 mph. Overwrought by massive gambling debts to casinos on both sides of the falls, the man decided there was no other way out. So he got in with the intent of ending his life.

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