What kind of neighbor are you? Jesus once told a group of people that they were to love their neighbor as they loved themselves. An individual in the crowd, wanting to justify himself as well as hopefully humiliate Jesus, asked the question, "Who is my neighbor?" That brings me to a principle I've learned in my own life - as well as in Bible study. Here is the principle. If you don't like what Jesus said, the dumbest thing you can do is ask a smart-alek question about it. If you did not like what He said at first - you are really not going to like how He answers your question. When Jesus answered their question about a neighbor, He said in effect that anyone and everyone is their neighbor. In that particular story the two Jewish leaders were the goats and the Samaritan was the hero. I'm sure that this endeared Him even more to the Pharisees and religious Jews who asked the question in the first place. I went through all this to assert the fact that Jesus made it clear that all those around us - especially those in need - are our neighbors. So, having said this, I ask my first question again, "What kind of nieghbor are you?" That is what today's proverb helps us to become - very good neighbors to those around us.
The righteous is a guide to his neighbor. So, in order to be a good neighbor, you need to live and speak in a way that guides them. From what we read in the rest of this proverb - that the wicked leads their neighbor's astray - we see that this guidance has to do with leading them in the right way - in a good way. Another thing we can rightly assume is that since this is written in the Bible, which is God's revelation of Himself, the "right" and the "good" way of which we speak is God's way.
Do you lead your neighbor's in God's way? That is the real question that needs to be posed to each of us. First of all, do you know the spiritual condition of your neighbors? Are they Christians? Are they aware of the gospel of Jesus Christ? If not, this is where you begin. You being by leading them to Christ. That is most definitely the right way. But more and more in Christian circles we are not sharing Christ with those around us. I don't know if this statistic still holds true, but at one time it took over 90 Baptists to lead a person to Christ. Before you think I'm picking on the Baptists, I imagine that number doesn't change much when it is transferred to Calvary Chapelites. Who knows it may go up! The problem is that what this means is that probably 1 out of ever 90 believers is actually sharing their faith - and knowing what I do about my particular area - I bet that is too low a number. It is more like 1 out of 250 are sharing their faith in Jonesboro. So what does this mean? It means we are NOT being a guide to our neighbors when it comes to THE MOST IMPORTANT TRUTH in life itself.
God left us on earth after saving us so that we could be a guide to others. In proverbs it says that a wise man wins souls. A wise man takes every opportunity to share Christ with others - and lead them to turn from sin and put their faith in Jesus rather than in their false gods, their religious works, or in nothing at all. It also means that we are to be guides to our neighbors when it comes to truth in general. Therefore I ask another question. Are we being guides to our neighbors by the way we live - and the things we support and oppose? All it takes for evil to triumph is for CHRISTIANS to not guide their neighbors! We need to speak up concerning biblical morality and biblical principles. First though we might want to "live-up" these things. Our country used to be a Christian nation. The reason it has abandoned those principles is because Christians abandoned living them out and guiding their neighbors with them.
The second half of this proverb warns us that the way of the wicked - leads people astray. It leads their neighbors astray. The word "way" here is our old friend "derek" in the Hebrew. It speaks of a lifestyle. It is what we would see if a lifestyle was made into a path for us to see. When the wicked live the way they do - it leads people astray. If you do not believe this, think about how the stars in Hollywood live - and how it has affected our nation's morals. We see them in movies and on television as they push the envelope further and further morally. Christians protest - and even complain of what is put before us. The problem is that we don't come out with the positive alternative. Even worse - we are not taking the gospel to our generation - thus making sure that there are more lost people in our generation than in any before it. Lost people act lost - its what they do. Therefore by not guiding our neighbors - we insure that the next generation will be even more ungodly than our own.
Wisdom knows that fallen men will act fallen. Wisdom knows that sinners will encourage other sinners to act like sinners. Wisdom also knows that without a Word from God to arrest men in their sinful ways, they will not turn from them. The righteous in this passage are not righteous because of what they have done for themselves. They are righteous by faith in Christ. They are transformed because Jesus Christ has become to them not just righteousness - but wisdom as well. They are living godly lives because of the grace of God. Therefore the wise know that they must be guides to their neighbors. Otherwise their neighbors will not come to Christ. Romans chapter 10 reminds us that unless we guide our neighbors - they will not know Christ, believe in Christ, and be transformed by His power to walk in godliness. Listen to Paul's words to the believers of his day.
"How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!" (Romans 10:14-15)
Our neighbors MUST be guided. We are the ones to guide them - and we cannot guide them unless we bring them the good news of the gospel. Not everyone who hears will receive Christ. But this we can know for sure, NO ONE WILL unless we guide them and share the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ with them. Be a guide to your neighbors - not someone who, through their silence, leads them astray.