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Precious Neighbours

When we take good care of God's business,
He will take good care of our business.

We are all on a holy pilgrimage from the outer court into the Holy of Holies; from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh, from living in the flesh to living in the Spirit, and from knowing "who I am" to knowing "I AM".

The Tabernacle of God is a very warm place. The Holy Fire is continuously burning at the altar and on the menorah. The Holy Place is not cold, harsh nor impersonal. Our God is very personal, full of grace, love and mercy! The covering of the Ark of the Covenant is namely called the Mercy Seat of God! In the midst of His presence is always the Burning Bush – His Holy Fire!

As we approach Him, our coldness, differences and indifferences towards Him and others will melt away! We will feel the warmth of His embrace and the fervent love of other saints radiating towards us. We are never alone in His presence. At the same time, we who are warmed and warm, openly radiate our rays of warmth and love towards others and God. No lukewarmness or coldness will remain in His presence. The heart door of true agape love is always open. True Christians are warm and loving, radiating the love of Christ; everywhere they go. To the loveables and also the unloveables – the downcasts, the poor, the sick, the problematic, the outcasts, the rejected and the despised.

The Light of Christ not only enlightens our lives; it goes on to energize us with the power of His love to love God and others. Every dark corner of our hearts will be exposed and tried in His glorious light – not to judge us but to examine, correct and transform us into His likeness. All our inner struggles and battles with God, others and ourselves will be straightened up and aligned with His will!

One thing I have learnt and am still learning in my journey with God is this: "Blessed are the flexible who shall not be bent out of shape." As God is still molding and perfecting us to become more like Him, let’s stay tender towards Him and others. Let’s not harden our hearts when the molding process is still in progress. It’s alright to turn the other cheek, to walk the extra mile and to give the cloak away. It is only through these heart examinations, we can excel and walk off with flying colours. Putting away differences and indifferences, prejudices and presumptions, let’s love people the way God loves them. That’s does not mean that we compromise or endorse everything people do, it simply means that our hearts are magnanimous enough to love even our enemies:

"But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect." Matt 5:44-48

We thank God for giving us neighbours – precious neighbours! Whether they are friends, enemies, close associates, persons who live nearby or someone whom we come into contact with, let’s be a good neighbour to them. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus extended the concept of neighbor to include strangers (Luke 10:25-37) and hence all of mankind. The question asked in this parable is "Who is my neighbour?" The amazing answer is this heart-probing question: "Am I a neighbour?"

The Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:1-3) established moral obligations among the Israelites. They were commanded to show concern for their neighbours. They are blessed to be a blessing, not just to the Jews but also the Gentiles. The early Jewish believers in Christ did not want to spread the gospel of Christ to the Gentiles. They chose to remain witnessing in Jerusalem until God scattered them abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:1). Even then, they demanded the Gentiles to proselytize and become Jews first before they could believe in Christ. It was Apostle Paul who taught otherwise that the gospel is for the nations, and not only Israel. The Gentile believers did not have to be physically circumcised to become Jews!

Like Israel, the Church is the called out ones of God (ekklesia). Out of darkness into His marvellous night. Jesus’ priestly prayer for us is:

"I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world." John 17:15-18

To be in the world and not of the world! Whether we like it or not, we will have both Christian and not-yet-Christian neighbours, both godly and ungodly ones, both good, bad and ugly ones.

Let’s look at what the Bible has to say about our precious neighbours, whatever and whoever they are:

Lev 19:18
Love your neighbour as yourself
You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
Exo. 20:16
The 9th Commandment
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Exo. 20:17
The 10th Commandment
You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's.
Lev 19:13
Do not cheat, rob, hoard
You shall not cheat your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of him who is hired shall not remain with you all night until morning.
Lev 24:19-20
Do not harm
If a man causes disfigurement of his neighbor, as he has done, so shall it be done to him--fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he has caused disfigurement of a man, so shall it be done to him.
Prov 14:21
Do not despise
He who despises his neighbor sins; but he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he.
Prov 16:29
Do not tempt and mislead
A violent man entices his neighbor, and leads him in a way that is not good.
Prov 26:19
Do not deceive
Is the man who deceives his neighbor, and says, "I was only joking!"
Zech 8:17
Do not think evil against
Let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor; and do not love a false oath. For all these are things that I hate,' says the LORD.

Many writers of the New Testament had quoted and expanded the royal command in Lev. 19:18 to love one's neighbor as oneself, for example, Matt. 5:43; 19:19; 22:39; Mark 12:31-33; Luke 10:27; Rom. 13:9-10; Gal. 5:14; and James 2:8.

Apostle Paul declared in Rom 13:9-10:

For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Now, I know why all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Gal 5:14). Simply because God is our Neighbour too - our Invisible and Vertical Neighbour. He dwells (tabernacles) in our midst. Whatever things we do to others (our visible and horizontal neighbours), we do unto Him (our Invisible and Vertical Neighbour)! Whatever we do in word or deed, we do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Col 3:17).

If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother (neighbour) also. 1 John 4:20-21

Again my heart is being probed: "Am I a neighbour? A warm, loving and precious neighbour?"

Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary