Love Your Neighbor: 4 Ways to Help Your Kids Follow Jesus’ Commandment

How well do you know your neighbors? Do you know them by name or do you just nod when you pass them? Do your kids have friends in the neighborhood?

According to Pew Research Center, only 25% of Americans claim to know most of their neighbors. Let’s face it, being a good neighbor can be difficult and inconvenient at times, especially in a culture marked by differences in opinions and views. However, as Christian parents, we are called to set the standard for HOW to be a good, godly neighbor. 

Acts 17:26-27 reminds us that we don’t live where we live by accident. God placed us in our home, with our exact neighbors, for a purpose. “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.” We are called to be a light to others around us, but especially our neighbors. In fact, let’s look at Jesus’ own words on this subject in Matthew 22:36-37. In this passage, Jesus is questioned about the greatest Commandments…

“‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.’”

So, not only do we need to be a good neighbor, but we are actually called to LOVE our neighbors. And, since it’s listed as the second commandment, we need to make it a priority in our lives. Even further, we need to teach our children to love their neighbor by consistently modeling compassion and respect to those who live next door — despite any differences you may have. 

Here are 4 ways to help your kids learn to love their neighbors, along with some practical tips to get you started as a family:

1. Start with a Wave & a Smile

If this is out of your comfort zone, just start small. Simply wave and smile as you drive past a neighbor on the street. Hang out in your front yard — rather than the backyard —and say “Hello!” as people walk past your house and give an enthusiastic wave to passing cars. Your kids will quickly pick up on this and before you know it, they will be doing the same thing! You never know, your smile may be the only kindness someone is shown that day.

2. Spark a Conversation

Next, be intentional to find out WHO your neighbors are. After breaking the ice a few times with a simple smile, it’s time to learn something about them by sparking a conversation. Find out where they work, what they enjoy, if they have any pets, etc. Having children involved in this is a great ice-breaker. On a hot day, have your kids hand out popsicles or bottles of a cold drink as neighbors walk by. If you aren’t good with names, create a map of the neighborhood and fill it in with names as you learn them. The kids will have so much fun with this activity! 

If you want to take it a step further, plan a neighborhood block party with food and kids’ activities. Take a family walk around the neighborhood and hand out invitations.

3. See a Need, Fill a Need

Be observant and watch for opportunities to help a neighbor. Have a family meeting around the dinner table to discuss different ways you could individually and collectively serve someone. Deliver cookies to a new family who just moved in. Weed an elderly couple’s overgrown garden. Take a glass of cold water to a neighbor working (and sweating) doing yard work. Grab a neighbor’s trash cans that are blowing down the street on a windy day. Have your kids write an encouraging message on a neighbor’s driveway. Cut some flowers from your garden and deliver a beautiful bouquet to someone. Remember, simple acts of kindness can go a long way and teach your children an incredible life lesson.

4. Pray

Last, but certainly not least, pray over your neighborhood. As a family, set aside a focused time of prayer specifically for your neighborhood. Go for a family prayer walk, and pray over the houses and families living in them. Pray for peace in the homes and for hearts to turn towards Jesus. If you run into anyone, ask them if there is anything specific you can pray for. Leave space to listen to what God might be encouraging you to do. Want some more guidance on this? Check out our At Home Resource, Neighborhood Prayer W.A.L.K.

By encouraging our children to show love to others, we are helping to build their character by being more like Jesus. And, as we are more like Jesus, we will continue to attract people to Him. So, go and encourage your kids to be neighbor-loving, Kingdom builders!

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Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments I give you…Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road…Deuteronomy 6:5-7