To Be Salt and Light-We Must Love Our Neighbor as Ourselves
Heart to Heart

To Be Salt and Light-We Must Love Our Neighbor as Ourselves
by Candy Summers

 This past year, we had invited some neighbors of ours to attend Sonia’s graduation party. Prior to the party, they stopped the children and me as we were walking down our road, to let us know that their son had impregnated his girlfriend and wanted to know if he, she, and a child from a prior relationship would be welcome to attend Sonia’s party.
 First, I told her how sorry I was and then asked if her son and this girl had repented and when they were to marry. I was told that they were not going to get married right away. I explained how all of us are sinners, but by God’s grace are forgiven when we repent; emphatically pleading with her to implore her son to repent, as his soul was at stake. I then very humbly and sadly explained to her that we could not possibly allow him to come while in open rebellion to God, especially because of all the children that would be there, for we would not want any of them to think that we were condoning his sin because immorality was very serious.
 I told her again how sorry I was, but that Jon and I must honor God and His law. However, in the same breath, I did tell her that her son and his girlfriend would be welcome at our house for counseling any other time. She went on to tell me that she and her husband would not be attending because she would not go anywhere her son was not welcome.
 “So you are not going to heaven?” I replied, “Because God clearly says that fornicators will not enter His kingdom.” I then proceeded to explain to her how serious fornication was and how concerned I was for her son’s soul since nothing else mattered but his eternal abode.
 I then asked her if their pastor had counseled him. Shockingly, her pastor had counseled both of them not to marry because he was certain that it would end in divorce due to their constant arguing. I told her that his counsel was blasphemous and that they should leave their church because he was speaking from his own reasoning and not from God’s Word. The most important thing to be done now was to be repent. They had a child to consider now and should marry.
 She then asked me if I thought she was wrong for refusing to marry her son’s father because after all, it would have ended in divorce because he was such an awful man. Ironic that she did not consider this before their intimate liaison.
 However, the fact is, as I pointed out to her, it matters not what I think, only what God says. In fact, regardless of whether someone is Christian or not, Acts 17:30,31 states that “all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness…” 2 Corinthians 5:10,11: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men…” essentially to be reconciled to Him.
 I then went on to say that all marriages have difficulties because all of us are sinners, but that is where the grace of God comes in. She then told me that she was not going to pass this conversation on to her son because he would never speak to me again. To which I replied, “I care not whether your son is mad at me or whether he speaks to me or not; all I care about is his relationship with God, for nothing else matters in this world. Life is just a vapor, a blink, and it is gone. Eternity is forever! Besides, he already knows where I stand on this because he and I had a very long talk several months ago about the importance of aligning his life with God’s Word. I had already warned him that this would happen if he did not stop becoming so intimately involved in one girl after the next.”
 After we parted, I called and left very lengthy messages on their home phone about our love for them, how much Jon and I were grieving over the son’s sin, and invited them over to study scripture and for counseling. We also told them that we would do whatever we could to help them in marriage. Later we found out that this young man had a child by another woman just one month prior to the birth of the present girlfriend’s child. His most recent acquisition is a tattoo with both children’s names written on his arm because he would not give them up for the world. However, he does not love them enough to marry one of the mothers. How incredibly sad!
 For lack of space, I have only shared some points of the conversation. However, it is interesting to note that this young man continues to stop by to talk with me because he knows how much I sincerely care about his soul. I have shared the sins of my own youth with him and the grievous guilt it left, yet how thankful I am to Christ for the forgiveness I now enjoy because of His sacrifice for me. But knowing full well what it cost Christ to atone for my sins makes me ever more careful to walk according to His will. Therefore, each time I see him, I implore him to repent and do what is right in the sight of God. Leaving someone in sin is not love, so love your neighbor as yourself!
 Recently, we had a conversation with a waitress that included the fact that she and her boyfriend were soon to purchase a house, to which I inserted, “After you’re married, I hope.” She sheepishly looked at me with downcast eyes, telling me all I needed to know. I quickly asked her if she knew the high statistics of failed marriages of those who lived together prior to marriage. I then shared with her the significance of making a solemn, sacred covenant before the Lord, for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health—for it is only that commitment before the Lord that holds any marriage together. I then told her to make certain that she waited until that boy made an honest girl of her, honoring her, for if he really loved her, he would marry her. I then asked her what she thought would hold them together if they moved in together without being married—the house? But before she could answer, I told her that houses are easily disposed of and can easily be divided between two parting parties.
 I pointed to my family and said that this is the blessing marriage brings. But I also shared that in my 29 years of marriage, we certainly had differences that could have ended in divorce had it not been for our commitment to God that we would stay together for better and for worse. I then, once again, encouraged her to wait until that young man married her. Thankfully, before we left, she came up to me and said, “I will strongly consider what you have said to me. Thank you!” Love your neighbor as yourself!
 Jon was recently invited to an apprentice’s home. Upon arrival, the wife told her husband that she could not get her son out of the pool. The boy was only three years old, and this mother could not make him get out of a pool??? Well, the father ignored the situation, and he continued to talk with Jon about things he thought were more important than making his son obey. But things became worse, for the son, upon seeing his father, wanted him to come over to him and repeatedly called to him, which the father also ignored. This went on until Jon couldn’t take it any longer. Jon excused himself from their conversation, walked over to the boy, and explained to him how disrespectful it was for him to interrupt his father’s conversation. Guess what? The boy stopped. How simple, if only the father would have gone over, kissed his son, told him to obey his mother and get out of the pool.
 Now let us fast-forward to what will happen if this couple continues to allow this boy to rule their home. Two months ago, our neighbor was letting me know that her son, who just turned 13, would be staying home with his grandmother while she and her husband went to visit their other children in Pennsylvania. I immediately questioned her as to why her son was not accompanying them on their trip. She proceeded to tell me that he did not want to go, and she couldn’t make him, so what was she going to do?
 Now it would not have mattered to me if she had asked my opinion, because as a Christian, I could not let this go. But she did phrase her last words into a question, so I replied with a very matter of fact response that she should make him obey, for she was the mother whom God placed over her son. Children do not have the right to dictate to their parents as to what they want. Besides the obvious ramifications that this kind of training would lead to, she was training her son for failure, not only in marriage, but in the business world as well. Certainly no employer is going to put up with an employee who fails to heed directions. For example, an employer tells this young person to do something that he does not want to do. What has this boy been trained to do? Please himself, for after all, his happiness is that which the sun rises and sets upon, is it not? So he quits because he does not have to put up with something that he does not want to do because his happiness is what matters most. Isn’t that what good ole mom has always taught him? What do you want to do, son? Oh, you do not want to go with the family on vacation? Certainly, we will accommodate you and bring grandma over here so that your wishes are fulfilled. What kind of husband will this child become? Well, when things do not go as he desires, he will leave and pursue his happiness elsewhere. Love your neighbor as yourself!
 Several years ago when I took the children to Josephine’s for lunch, we were met by a very unfriendly hostess. To make matters worse, while we waited for a table, we observed repeated displays of rudeness. So after lunch while wandering through the gift shop, I stopped the owner to compliment her, once again, on her selection of gifts and her marvelous gift of decorating. Later in the conversation, I explained what my children and I had witnessed with her hostess, telling her that I thought she should know because of the ramifications this employee could possibly have on her business. She immediately made excuses for the hostess, saying that she was probably tired after such a hectic lunch hour. Trust me when I tell you that every day at Josephine’s is hectic at lunch, so this had not been an unusually busy day. People buzz in and out of there like bees around honey, so that was no excuse.
 Politely, I explained, “A hostess’s job is to greet people with a smile and make them feel welcome. If your hostess cannot handle the amount of people that come to your restaurant, then perhaps she should be doing something more suitable to her personality because there is no excuse for rudeness, especially to elderly people. The hostess is the first impression one receives, and so the hostess is a reflection of the business; unfortunately, that girl will drive off business. I know that it is very difficult to find good help these days, but a hostess’s disposition is extremely important in making customers feel welcomed.” The owner then whole-heartedly agreed with me and admitted that there was no excuse for her behavior, and she said that she would address this young woman’s attitude.
 My mother and father were in business for 40 years, and if there is one thing they taught me, it was to treat every customer like you would a king or queen. The customer is always right. And if a business does not offer service, they do not deserve to be in business. My parents always hired very polite and friendly help, but if there had been a problem, they most certainly would have wanted to hear about it. In today’s culture, it is very difficult to find good help. Therefore, it is imperative to inform business owners of rude employees who could potentially cost them their business if left unchecked. On the other hand, it is equally important to praise polite, friendly, and helpful employees. Jon and I go out of our way to praise helpful and polite employees and even tell their managers or employers, as well. Love your neighbor as yourself!