Quite frankly, I’m not impressed. There’s something about him I just don’t like. He’s been in our neighbourhood for years. He’s very stand-offish. Once a year he sticks a religious calendar in our door, but for the rest of the year, he’s never seen. He has a reputation for being cheap and cutting hard deals around town. He looks out for Number-One. Even when we had a ‘welcoming’ for a needy family who moved in next door, he never showed-up or even sent a gift over. He poked his head in our door two months ago to ask us to attend a Bible meeting.

What kind of a reputation are you building in your neighbourhood? What do your neighbours on your block or on your road or in your building think of you? How long have you been there?

Abraham and Sarah had been in the Hebron neighbourhood for 60+ years. They were not land-owners. They didn’t put their roots down – as if they were permanent residents of the area. They lived in a tent, always looking to the Lord for their next move. Ultimately, Hebrews 11:10 tells us that Abraham was looking for a city whose designer and builder is God.

In Hebron, they were surrounded by non-believers. Their buying and selling transactions would be with non-believers. They were a part of the community but, yet – they were separate from it. Strangers but not strange.

When Abraham’s wife Sarah died, Abraham went to the community to see if he could purchase a burial plot for his lifelong partner. His opening line to the Hittites went like this:

I am a sojourner and foreigner among you; give me (sell me) property among you for a burying place, that I may bury my dead out of my sight. Genesis 23:4

The response of Abraham’s neighbours went like this:

Hear us, my lord; you are a prince of God among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. Genesis 23:6

“You have lived among us for sixty plus years. Although you are not one of us, and our lifestyles are completely different, you have lived among us. When you first arrived, everyone wondered: ‘What are these people really like?’ We watched you so closely – just like you were under a microscope! Our unanimous conclusion is – we’ve been deeply impressed. Your consistency, your faithfulness, your integrity in all your dealings with us – well, you’ve just been a real ‘prince’ among us. You and Sarah have lived such a noble and distinguished life among us! You are a prince of the God you represent!”

How well am I representing the God I serve to the community I live in? What do they better understand about God as they observe my life? Would my neighbours fill a room to celebrate my presence in the community for 60 years? Would they step up to a microphone on the occasion of a death in my family and say:

“I am representing all the neighbours and we just want you to know that we deeply respect you and your family. You are like nobility living among us.”

If we are living the way Christ wants us to live, our neighbours would say the same thing about us. (Philippians 2:15) If we allow the Holy Spirit to rule in our lives, the beautiful fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) will be obvious to our neighbours.

Walk carefully and closely with the Lord today.

Warmly in Christ
Peter Ramsay

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