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It’s Not What It Seems -Loving Your Neighbors

Mark 12:31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

There was a local story on the news about a bunch of individuals complaining about their neighbor whose home was in disrepair. The man, John- was 86 years old, a widower and with no children or family. They said things like, “He’s not too friendly, he keeps to himself.”  And – “His house is an eyesore. It makes our home values go down, it’s a disgrace.”  That was the main theme of the complaints. But hang on the story gets better. An 18-year-old female, Morgan- opted for the best way to handle the “situation.”  She rang his bell and offered to paint the house for him for free and brought him a tray of lemon bars and lemon cookies to sweeten the deal!  Well, guess what? It worked, and the man was so pleased that the young lady sought him out in this way. Morgan’s friends offered help in the project too/ And before long the house was completed, and they redid the entire landscape. It looked like a home that could be featured in “Home and Garden” by the time it was finished and was resplendent among all the other homes. Morgan and her family befriended John and because of that entire interaction, he seems ready for a whole new lease on life!

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.

This story touched my heart so deeply, that this young woman was so wise, and her heart was so big. Turns out she is a Christian and is going to major in theology in college. When she graduates, she hopes to be a Chaplain in nursing homes and hospitals.

I understand that calling to serve the elderly, as that was what I did my entire career in nursing homes. I am sure Morgan will be making a major difference in her lifetime, she already demonstrated her capacity to change things around in a positive fashion.

There is always a way to reach people, most anyhow. Of course, there are some who sadly will never respond. But a good majority will if given the chance. It’s all in how you see things, and what you can do after assessing the situation.

I recall a time when I was 10 years of age, another story about a man named John -who lived in big gray house at the end of our street. He was very old and walked with a cane. He chased everyone away from his house, yelling with his cane waving it in the air. All my friends ran away screaming, scared to death. I stood there and waved at him. I felt sorry for him. He’d look at me and put his cane down and offered up what little smile he could muster. My friends warned me, “stay away from him, he’s old and crazy with that cane.” But there was something really sad about this man.  I felt so bad for him, and obviously at that time I wasn’t really aware yet, but God brought him into my heart to help. I felt a need. I spoke to my parents and told them about my concerns and feelings about the “old man” at the end of the street.

My parents asked what I’d like to do? I suggested my mom make him her delicious apple crumb pie, and a big dish of her delicious pot roast with veggies and mashed potatoes. My parents hugged me, and said, “done.”

The next day my mom did exactly as I suggested.  I walked there with my mom and dad, so excited about it, my stomach was flipping. We walked up his creaky front steps, that were peeling and broken in spots. My dad rang the bell. After a long time waiting, the door opened very slightly.

“What do you all want from me?” I remember his words as if it were yesterday. In fact, the entire scene is so fresh in my mind as I type I feel as if it were happening this very moment.

My Dad answered, “We just want to offer you the best home cooked meal in town, my daughter here suggested it.”

John just stared openly at my dad, then looked at me and my mom. He responded in a small voice, “why?

My Mom answered that one, “because my daughter thought you needed a good meal to make you happy.” My Mom flashed her beautiful smile at John, her kind eyes watching for his reaction.

John opened the door wide without one word and we all entered. From that day forward John was a regular within our family unit. He readily accepted us as “family” as we did him. He was just a lonely man hidden away from a harsh world, all he needed was-pardon the cliché-love. Yes, a little bit of old-fashioned hospitality and love. My Dad even represented him pro bono in court when he was being unduly sued for slander. He insisted on paying my dad who didn’t want a stipend of any kind. So, my father finally accepted his ‘old antique’ desk after stating; “I’m not a charity case.” John insisted, “Besides, a fine young man such as yourself will have many years to enjoy this old desk of mine…”  My father did in fact use it in his den at our home. Today, that same desk sits in my brother Andrew’s office, and one day will be passed on to His own Son. It actually is a fine old desk that came from a place of love, love, and more love.

Love, patience, and how you approach someone who is “different” or “gnarly” makes all the difference in the final outcome of any kind of said problem.

When we practice in the way in which Jesus taught and teaches us to this day in His Word, we can accomplish so many things, both big and small. And even if it only helps “one person” then it is worth it.

As Jesus said (Matthew 18:10–14) in the parable of the Lost Sheep- He will leave the 99 sheep to go and find the one lost sheep, and when that sheep is found-there will be great rejoicing.  John was lost and lonely. Oh, and another part of the story, the best of all… he started attending church with us too! Yep, that one sheep came back to the fold, and heaven was rejoicing for sure!

Galatians 5:14  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Is there anyone in your neighborhood who needs a little “TLC” or “old fashioned type hospitality?”

“Father, God may I always remember that things aren’t always what they seem, they I should attend to those less fortunate, and those in need or lonely, may I be Your humble servant in all I do, and make a difference in lives as I live mine, today and always, in Jesus’ name, Amen.”


C D SWANSON is an Author and freelance writer, a contributor to various websites, a member of Faithwriters, and has a website. It is her greatest joy to write what’s in her heart, and thus her favorite form of expression is in her devotionals. She and her husband share a deep love of God and dote on their fur baby Mickey. Retired Director from Long Term Healthcare, she continues to be an advocate for many. To check out other writings of this author you can go here:

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  1. You have wise parents that listened to your experience and gave you the opportunity to give an answer for the situation you observed. For them to do this was a way of trusting and affirming your advice by observe your compassion. It was a way of awarding you by joining in on your plan and working to implement it. What a wonderful experience and excitement to work together on the Lord’s behalf.
    In both testimonies, there was a compassionate heartbeat without judgment. The problem with people is outward appearances instead of inward concern and a willingness to come alongside people offering them help.
    Thank you for these positive examples and methods of help and hope. This is what loving our neighbors is about.

  2. Dear Cora,

    I want to thank you so much for your insight and wonderful feedback you always provide! I was very blessed to have grown up in a Christ centered family, my parents were fine examples and I miss them to this very day.

    That young lady on the news gave me hope that there are many others out there that show compassion to others, it’s just the news seems centered on providing “dark time” stories that hold sensationalism.

    Thank you again Cora, may God continue to bless you and your family abundantly~

  3. I have been thinking about God’s upside down Kingdom lately. These are both classic examples of this reversal – behaving in a way that is totally topsy turvy to the way the world would approach these situations. Every time I read the way Christians behave in reversal to the way the world does it brings a lump to my throat and joy to my heart. God’s way is the best way. Thank you Camille for sharing these God-honouring stories.

    • Jennifer,
      That is such an interesting way of speaking about the behavior in individuals in the world. Love that analogy you presented here. Thank you for your input and insight, that was succinctly stated and beautifully depicted.
      God Bless~

  4. Thank you for that wonderful story and example. I’m so glad your parents supported you in your love and concern. Truly an illustration of what loving your neighbor can accomplish.

    My wife and I are in our 80’s now, but God has blessed us with unusually good health for our age. We are able to make phone calls and sometimes visits to the elderly in our church. We have often been rewarded with the statement from them, “You made my day!”

    This article touched my heart and I thank you so very much for sharing it.

    • Dale,

      Thank you, Dale, for your touching feedback.
      I was equally touched by how you are still serving the LORD in the capacity in which is right for you and your wife at this time. You are blessed with good health, and how beautiful that you reach out to others making their day and giving hope and encouragement.
      Fine example of godly love and compassion,
      God Bless you both~

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