Today I was reading in the book of Proverbs for my devotions, and I came upon a verse that I swear was not there the last time I read Proverbs. This happens to me frequently in reading the Bible – I find things I don’t remember reading before, even though I have read the entire Bible many times. Here is the verse: “Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house – too much of you and he will hate you.” Proverbs 25:17.
Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house. This verse does not mean we need to be unfriendly to our neighbors. Or that neighbors can’t be our friends. In fact, this verse suggests that neighbors will be some of our closest friends. Because we don’t want to irritate or bother our closest friends with trivial matters. If we constantly interrupt people we care about while they are doing things they need to, we become pests instead of friends.
Think about someone you thought could be a friend but they turned out to be so needy that you eventually had to back away from the friendship. These people are self-absorbed and think we should drop everything whenever they want something. Or they act hurt when we let them know we have other plans. They might make us feel like we are back in the drama of Junior High School with constant crises. Those are not our favorite people and we certainly don’t want to be like them.
Tom and I don’t really have to worry about this verse – at least not in the literal sense. We exemplify “seldom set foot” by never staying in one place very long. But what kinds of demands do we make on our friends and family? You don’t have to stay in one place to expect too much from someone. Part of being an adult is learning the balance between being self-reliant and needing others. Loving without demanding love in return. Giving and receiving in somewhat equal measure.
I seldom set foot in my neighbor’s house, but I continue to hold my friends and family close in my heart and prayers. I think they know that I will be there for them when they need me, and I know that they are there for me in the same way. In this manner, we continue to be blessings to each other instead of being too much.