Love Your Neighbor

Proverbs 24:1-34

WSC #1, chief end to glorify God. Jesus said “My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.” John 15:8 He also said, “”If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15 and “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” John 15:14

Love neighbor found first in Lev. 19:18, quoted 8 times in the New Testament, 3 times by Jesus himself. Paul makes this summary statement in Romans 13:9:

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.”

Loving neighbor achieves two things: it glorifies God (obedience to his commands) and serves God (service to others, part of the means God uses to meet their needs). A fellow trying to look good in his own eyes asked Jesus, “So, who is my neighbor?” Jesus responded with the story (Luke 10:29-37) of the man who fell into the hand of robbers, was seen but avoided by a priest and Levite, then helped by the Samaritan. Jesus answered indirectly, teaching the man that the person in his path whom he recognizes as having a need is the neighbor. But Jesus didn’t leave it there; you see, neighbors come in pairs and being a good neighbor was in Jesus’ view as important as recognizing a neighbor.

Solomon in our text gives indications why it is important to be a good neighbor, what our neighbor needs from us who are guided by godly wisdom.

A. He’s watching

Set a godly example v.10

How do you handle the tough stuff? weather the storms of life?

adversity is direct consequence of the Fall – “because you have …eaten of the tree, cursed is the ground for your sake; in sorrow you shall eat” Gen. 3:17

adversity used by God to teach us to depend, strengthen our faith, give him the glory

it’s ok to be “shaken, but not moved”, human (not robots, stiff upper lip) yet victorious

when it is obvious to onlookers that we depend on God, our confidence is in him, we give him the glory

saints will be encouraged

if you can manage the adversity with God’s help, so can they when it comes their way

sinners will be pointed to God and will of necessity glorify him (Matt. 5:16), recognize that the true source of strength lies outside of them (contra Yoda)

B. He needs your protection

Warn of danger v.11

two pair of eyes are better than one for discerning danger

not everyone is perceptive in all areas – different experience, training, equipping by God

God has given us to one another to look out for each other – e.g., one to work, one to watch

renewed mind following way of wisdom is more discerning than natural mind

we will see dangers our lost neighbors will not

the greatest danger they face is eternity alienated from God

must use every opportunity to direct conversation toward things of God, their need for him

can’t be so focused on greatest danger we miss occasion to warn of lesser dangers

C. He needs your help

Don’t try to get ahead at your neighbor’s expense v.15

Christian is to put brothers & sisters (neighbors) first – “giving preference to one another” (Rom. 12:10)

our purpose is to serve God by serving others, acting as his means to meet their needs

this life is as good as it gets for the unsaved

any blessings he receives at all come before death

he needs our help to find God; he can’t find God on his own, he’s blind and stumbling around in the dark

Don’t gloat over his misfortune v.17

it’s only because of God’s grace that we escape misfortune

on a human level, we can’t expect him to be interested in God if God’s people kick him when he’s down

D. He needs your honesty

Speak the truth even if it costs v.26, 28

kiss – sign of affection and respect

must love and respect our neighbor enough to tell the truth

must be winsome without sugarcoating

when it’s a really tough situation, people generally (if grudgingly) respect honesty

if truth genuinely is to neighbor’s hurt, be certain it is the truth and spoken for biblical reasons

E. He needs your encouragement

No paybacks v.29

paybacks are God’s business, not ours

he knows all the facts, will be certain justice is truly served

works through civil authority in this life, handles the rest

at Calvary for the Christian

or in eternity for the lost

living in a fallen world is hard enough without us adding to the difficulty

harsh treatment never encourages better performance or attitude

God has not given us what we deserve; that’s enough reason for us to show mercy to others

F. He can teach you

Learn from his mistakes v.30-32, then ff

shouldn’t be too proud to be teachable, willing to learn from whoever God puts in our path

can learn positive principles from negative examples

neighbor trusted his own wisdom, failed to be diligent, squandered God-given resource

didn’t set out to be poverty-stricken

overtook him one step at a time

wise man learns to trust God, work diligently, maximize God-given resources

goal is not riches but pleasing God

staying God-focused rather than self-focused leads to blessing

If loving our neighbor is inseparable from being a good neighbor, remember the Good Samaritan story, then it is important we be a good neighbor by meeting our neighbor’s needs to the degree God enables us. Our prayer must be that the Lord would use us to influence and encourage our neighbors – influence the lost to turn to Christ in faith, encourage the saved to persevere on the journey home. May the Lord make us a blessing to all we encounter.

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