Daily Success
Institute in Basic Life Principles

Command 40 : Love Your Neighbor | Day 276

Use Wisdom in Loving Neighbors!

A kind, compassionate man thought he was showing love, but his actions ended up bringing much hurt to his neighbor and to himself. The neighbor had poured out a story of financial woes and claimed that if he could get someone to co-sign for a loan, all of his financial troubles would be over. He was persuasive and persistent, and finally the kind man agreed to co-sign for the note. However, years later his kindness was "repaid" with an urgent call from the bank demanding immediate payment of $700,000! Instead of alleviating the financial pressures, this additional loan had simply enabled the neighbor to mismanage even greater sums of money.

The Bible, which commands us to love our neighbors, also warns us of the dangers of co-signing for a loan. Co-signing makes both parties slaves of the bank and causes us to risk losing both the friend and the assets that God has entrusted to us. (See Proverbs 6:1-5, 22:7.) Often, those who have financial pressures do not need money; they need counsel from the Word of God.

Showing love to a neighbor does not mean we always do what is being asked. We must use wisdom to discern his real need.

What appears to be a physical need may actually be the result of a spiritual need. We can effectively love a neighbor by sharing with him the truths of God's Word that apply to his specific situation. This is possible because “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (II Timothy 3:16-17).

For instance, if a Christian neighbor is lamenting the fact that he cannot make ends meet due to unexpected expenses, he may need the counsel of Malachi 3:10-11 or Proverbs 3:9-10, which speak of honoring the Lord with finances. God promises to bless those who tithe and to rebuke the devourer for their sakes.

If a neighbor complains that nothing is going right in his marriage and family, we could ask him if he honored his parents while growing up or if he got married with his parents' full blessing. If not, the best counsel we can give him is how to be reconciled with his parents, because God tells us to honor our parents “that it may be well with thee” (Ephesians 6:3).

As we talk with neighbors, it is important that they sense our genuine love and concern for them. James tells us, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17).

If our words or attitudes are judgmental and condemning, our neighbors will most likely reject our advice. The Apostle Paul instructed Titus "to speak evil of no man" and instead to show meekness unto all men with humility, remembering that we also have at times been foolish, disobedient, deceived, etc. (See Titus 3:2-5.)

Loving our neighbors wisely includes doing good works that are based on the wisdom of God's Word.

In order to love our neighbors wisely, we must know the Bible and be skilled at applying its truths to our own lives and to the needs of others. Let's continue to meditate on God's Law day and night so that we can learn the wisdom of God and love our neighbors as ourselves.

“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:39).

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Contributing writer: Bill Gothard