Sometimes I’m selfish. You probably are too. We’re born that way, you know. To get our way we cry, pout, throw a temper tantrum and, if not careful, become a teensy bit bratty. That’s because some of us never grow up. We think of ourselves measured only by our needs and desires before thinking of anyone else. And even though some of us (like me) were blessed with parents who demonstrated the opposite side of that self-centered coin, if we’re not careful, our greedy genetic pool will represent a sewer system rather than a stream of living water.
Dave and I have a friend who lives to bless others. He and his family reside in Stilwell, Kansas, but own a house next to ours at Lake Fort Scott. In spite of working full time and having three very active teens and a wife whose job sends her all over the world, he has a knack for hearing of a need and then meeting it. His name is Vince, and if “givingest” were a word, that would describe him. For the months Dave and I are gone in the summer, he mows our yard. A few weekends ago, he gave up a Friday evening and Saturday morning to help Dave with some electrical work. He never complains or reminds us of all he does for us. Ask and we receive. Don’t ask, and our friend will somehow sense what he can do to make our lives easier.
I hope you have such a neighbor. This is a first for us. In the past, “neighborly” would not describe those living beside us. They have borrowed and not returned, helped themselves to whatever was in our refrigerator (even my last piece of cheesecake—seriously put me over the edge!), ignored us, introduced themselves only to ask if we smoke or host loud parties, and talked nonstop about their perfect family. You get the picture. But then there’s Vince. Dave and I don’t know how to reciprocate, for even a pitching pointer for his son or an occasional meal does nothing to move the benevolent pendulum that swings decidedly in Vince’s favor.
I recently heard a disturbing statistic that 75% of Americans don’t know their neighbors. It made me wonder what our country/city/neighborhood/family would be like if we all modeled our giving after Vince. What if we looked for ways to help instead of keeping tabs on how little others have done for us? What if we never guilted anyone into meeting our needs? What if we all tuned our ears to hear a need and then did what it takes to make someone’s life better? Better yet, what if we figured out that need without ever being told about it? Jesus was great at that, you know. He washed his disciples’ feet, a menial job designated for servants. In his day, feet were filthy. Grunge between the toes. Dirt imbedded in the callouses. No hot-rock pedicures for these guys. Still, while dining with his disciples, Jesus got up from the table, took off his outer garments, wrapped a towel around his waist, and washed their feet.
Daily, Jesus allowed himself to be inconvenienced and interrupted and invaded. He made time for others. Ephesians 2:10 lets us know we are to do likewise. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Get that? Our Heavenly Father has gone before us to give us opportunities to bless others, so perhaps 2020 could be the year when we become a little more Vince-like and pay attention to God’s nudgings.