Summary: Most people have lost the Biblical concept of neighbor, while they crave to have such neighbors. The sermons argues that it start with you.
THE MODEL NEIGHBOR
One of the things I use to like about the apartment I lived for most of my life was the neighbors. We had good neighbors and some of the boys continue to be my friends to this day. Having good neighbors is something everybody likes and appreciates. Currently, we have a couple as our next door neighbors. And frankly, I know only the husband’s name.
We all appreciate to have good neighbors. But, in order to have good neighbors; you have to be a good neighbor yourself. The biblical concept of the neighbor is more than our current concept of “the one who lives next door to us.” From the Leviticus 19:8-19, I like to propose three adjectives that would define “A Model Neighbor.” A Model Neighbor is one who is:
A. Kind (19:9-10)
B. Honest (19:11-18a)
C. Loving (19:18b)
I. THE KIND NEIGHBOR (19:9-10)
A. “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the Lord your God.”
B. The society of 15 century BC, when God gave these instructions through Moses was largely agricultural. Therefore it makes sense that God gives His instructions making reference to harvest and reaping.
C. As we can see God gave them specific rules. He told them:
1. Do not reap to the very edges.
2. Do not gather the gleanings.
3. Do not go over a second time.
4. Do not pick what has fallen.
D. The purpose for these regulations is given in verse 10, “…Leave them for the poor and the alien…”
1. God on purpose wanted them to take care of those who could not take care of themselves, “the poor and the alien.”
2. God wanted them to seek the good of others and learn to show kindness to them.
3. Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law was surprised at the quantity of the food Ruth gathered in Boaz’s fields. She knew the man was kind and had allowed her to glean far more then normally was possible (Ruth 2:18-20). Boaz was being a kind neighbor.
E. God’s children in the New Testament are to be kind in the same way.
F. The following story illustrates best this attitude. Please note that this is fiction story!
A man had just arrived in Heaven, told Peter how grateful he was to be in such a glorious place, and asked Peter to give him one glimpse into Hades in order that he might appreciate his good fortune even more. This Peter did.
In Hades he saw a long table extending as far as the eye could reach, laden down with the most delicious of all varieties of foods. But everyone around the table was starving to death. When asked for an explanation, Peter said, “Everyone is required to take food from the table only with four-foot-long chopsticks. They are so long that no one can reach the food from the table to his mouth, and therefore each one is dying of starvation.”
Quickly they returned to Heaven, and behold, the new arrival saw an identical table, laden down with identical foods, but everyone around the table was happy and well fed. Then he said to Peter: “With what do they take the food from the table?” and Peter answered, “Only with four-foot-long chopsticks.” At that the new arrival inquired: “Then why are all those in Hades starving to death while all those up here are so well fed and happy?” Whereupon Peter replied: “In Heaven we feed each other.” (Harry C. Mabry)
II. THE HONEST NEIGHBOR (19:11-18a).
A. “‘Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not deceive one another. Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord. Do not defraud your neighbor or rob him. Do not hold back the wages of a hired man overnight. Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the Lord. Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly. Do not go about spreading slander among your people. Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord. Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt. Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people…”
B. Verses 11-18 give us a description of the kindness in more detail. They consist of a series of 14 commands. The underlining theme of all is that of being honest. This means: