Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

raking leaves

It was a gorgeous sunny autumn day. The fallen leaves from the neighborhood’s mature trees were adding up. Yards and sidewalks were transformed from green and grey into a collage of autumn colors. It was beautiful and yet I knew that at some point we’d need to rake and bag them up before the next season (that we wont speak of yet) comes.

I recruited my girls, Esme (2) and June (5), to help me. We grabbed rakes and shovels and gathered the crunchy evidence of change into vibrant mounds of yellow and orange.

About 15 minutes into our work, I looked up. Esme was walking down the block toward June, who was several doors down raking leaves into massive pile. I put down my rake and walked toward them.

“June!” I said loudly. “What are you doing?”

“Raking the leaves. Look at all these leaves!” June said with a big smile on her face.

“This isn’t our yard though, June,” I responded.

June began speaking. “I know, but Dad…”

I almost interrupted her with several reasons why I wanted her to come back to our yard, but before I could, she finished saying, “We have to help our neighbors.”

I paused. Overwhelmed, a little ashamed (at myself), but mostly proud and challenged by what my five-year-old daughter said and did.

“You are right, June, but we are going to need some more bags,” I responded.

We jumped into the car to buy more bags and then returned home to complete the task. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ became so simple and tangible in this moment.

Sometimes I think we’ve made living the way of Jesus too complicated. Our desire to be right has overtaken our desire to live rightly. What if we just started with the greatest commandment of all? What if we allowed that principle to guide the way we live?


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