From the writings of the Rev. Billy Graham

Dear Dr. Graham:

When the Bible speaks of “neighbor” does it literally mean people who live in our neighborhood?

— N.U.

Dear N.U.: The word “neighbor” generally means someone who lives near, in the same community. But the Bible speaks of neighbor as anyone we may come in contact with, as in the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10). This can mean strangers we meet along life’s journey; it can also mean someone who lives next door, down the street, or even a family member. Often we may miss the neighbor God wants us to reach out to by only showing concern for someone halfway around the world, while ignoring someone in need closest to us.

Worldwide communication has opened up tremendous opportunities for us to reach out to those we will never know personally, but often times we are blinded to people within our reach; those suffering pain in hospitals, those experiencing loneliness in nursing homes, those grieving at funeral homes and gravesites.

A man told of a visitation at a funeral home when his uncle died. The room was filled with family, friends, neighbors — and numerous floral arrangements. Across the lobby he saw one woman standing at her father’s casket. As he listened to the voices of comfort for his uncle, he crossed the hallway and entered the somber room — no flowers, no hugs; just gloom. He approached the woman and began a conversation and then prayed for her. That resulted in the woman visiting his church and becoming a Christian. The young man had exemplified the true meaning of being a good neighbor.

There are many people around us who have never known the warmth of a simple handshake, or receiving a card, or a friendly voice on the telephone. If we ask God to show us a neighbor in need, He will.