My aim here is not to recount all the things we heard about the former owners of this house, nor to pat ourselves on the back for being better than they. What came to me first was to wonder what our old neighbors were saying about us to the man who bought our property. Were they relieved as well? I hope not. We tried to be good neighbors despite some serious annoyances at time, looking to smooth out problems rather than exacerbate them. I hope they remembered that instead of some irritation they felt toward us. Still, our new neighbors have made it plain that their former neighbor was not a hard act to follow as neighbors go. Almost anyone, they thought, would be better.
So perhaps the lesson for today is this: as neighbors, we should always strive to be a hard act to follow. When we are gone, people should have nothing to remember but kindness, generosity, consideration, and helpfulness. Isn't that the neighbor Jesus taught about in Luke 10? In Gal 1:23 and 1 Thes 1:7,8, Paul says that when you have true faith people cannot help but notice it. All over the New Testament, that same faith is accompanied by love, peace, righteousness, godliness, and meekness (Gal 5:6; Eph 6:23; 1 Tim 6:11,12). It stands to reason that, as people of faith, we should be known as good neighbors no matter where we live.
And so this morning, consider your neighbors and what they probably think of you. If you had to move tomorrow, would you be a hard act to follow, or would they sigh with great relief?
Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law (Rom 13:10).