I have often felt like I am the only person who feels the need to look out for other people. I am always in the mode of anticipating other people’s needs. I seem to notice every little thing. For instance, in church Sunday the elderly man sitting in front of me needed to pass a clipboard to the elderly lady sitting on the end and there was a wide space between the two and it was difficult for the man to lean over to give her the clipboard. So I jumped up and took the clipboard from him and gave it to the woman and he was so grateful for my noticing his dilemma. I am always the first to see gum on the sidewalk and remind everyone not to step in it. I am also the first person to insist that we be quiet when I know the neighbors can hear us talking and laughing. I was reminded recently that not everyone notices the needs of others. For instance while on vacation recently we were staying in a duplex cabin and in the other half people were staying who were really noisy. They went to bed late and got up late and their little grandchildren were screaming and banging doors way past midnight. I was tired and was wishing they had learned the same consideration for others that I had learned. They were not considerate neighbors at all to the point of even sitting in front of our door so that we had to make them move so we could go inside our part of the duplex. There was no reason for them to sit in front of our door as there was a large area to sit since we were staying in a state park facility. I thought about how the Bible talks about being considerate of others.
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:17-32, (New International Version or NIV). Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Ephesians 5:1-10, (NIV).
I guess this is the best description of how we are to live and who we are to model our life after. People without Christ are going to think only about what they need and deserve and desire regardless of what it may cost someone else. For me the neighbors who shared the duplex cost me a good night’s sleep and I was tired the next morning. I was tired and really had to try to not be cranky to anyone, especially them. As we were leaving to return home the two brothers who were the elders in the neighboring duplex told me that they sure hoped they hadn’t been too noisy. Honestly what can you say after the deed is done? I just smiled and dodged the question by saying that I sure hoped they enjoyed the rest of their vacation as I was sure going to enjoy mine. I got into the car we had packed earlier and turned on the key and the battery in my car was dead! I was stunned and had to scramble to find the road assistance phone number to call for help because the two brothers were not willing to help me. I waited about half an hour and the nicest man named Rodger came and jumped the battery and got my car going and told me not to turn it off until I got to a car dealership that could assist me. I know he got paid for his services but I sure was glad he was a nice guy and very helpful. He was a breath of fresh air when I needed some encouragement and not at all like the neighbors in the duplex. I don’t know if Rodger was a Christian but I do know God sent me the right person at the right time with the right information for me and I was praising God! Yes, my son and I made it home safely and the car now has a new battery! What an answer to our prayers!
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. How difficult it is sometimes to be kind to others, to be compassionate and forgiving to someone who is being a difficult jerk to you, and yet we are told to be kind. How can we do this? You know I think it isn’t really all that difficult for me especially as I get older because I know that God lives in me through the Holy Spirit and I can lean on Him for help and guidance. Had I faced the difficult neighbors thirty years ago I would have probably knocked on their door and asked them to be quiet because my children were sleeping!!! But I am much more mellow now. So what has made me so mellow you might ask? Life. I have gone through some storms and difficulties in my life to the point that all that roughness has been smoothed out in me. I now realize that in the grand scheme of things what is the loss of one night’s sleep? God will restore my sagging spirit if I ask Him to and I can continue to be cheerful and forgiving of people who are difficult. Actually as I observed the other family I saw two aging brothers who did almost nothing but sit and drink beer in a state park where alcohol is not allowed. The one brother was single and his younger brother, sister-in-law, and their two grandchildren were visiting from a distant state. They had a lot of visiting to do and it appeared as if they were sad. I began to feel sorry for them and so I would chat with them whenever I saw them. It never hurts to be kind to others. Maybe they were attending a funeral and the cabins were the only place to stay. Or maybe they were estranged and now reconnecting, or maybe they were just simply unhappy men. I don’t know, but God does and God placed in my heart softness for this family and so I extended some kindness toward them. I will pray for them too, that is the least I can do. That is the least and the best I can do for anyone even if I don’t know their names because God knows who they are and loves them too. My vacation taught me a lot and I am thankful that God met me there in some pretty special ways.