I have, for almost my entire life, lived in a rural setting. For three years, we lived in town with neighbors less than a stone’s throw away. I didn’t mind it so much; the rest of my family didn’t enjoy it. I remember the first time a neighbor girl visited one of our daughters. After an hour or so, with no sign of leaving, I realized I didn’t know the rules for this way of living. Was I supposed to tell you it was time to go? Was her mom going to call? Would she just leave on her own?

Neighboring is the relationship a person has with the ones who live close on the same street or in the same development. Jesus said your neighbor is anyone who has a need, regardless of where she lives or who she is.

Proverbs has a lot to say about good neighboring. As I read them, I am amused, amazed and awed all at the same time. The principles written for us thousands of years ago still stand true today. This week I am going to share some of my favorites.

9When arguing with your neighbor, don’t betray another person’s secret. 10Others may accuse you of gossip, and you will never regain your good reputation.

Proverbs 25:9-10

What do these two — arguing and betrayal — have in common? Why would a person betray a confidence when arguing with a neighbor?

I only have my own experience and human nature to lean upon, but I recall times when I disagreed with someone and remember the desire to one up the one with whom I am arguing. What better way to do that than share information she doesn’t have and I do. Or perhaps the secret supports my point of view. There are many reasons a person might divulge a secret in the midst of an argument.

In the heat of the moment, it’s so easy to forget what is truly important– your character. Gossiping ruins your character. Character is far more important than being right. Protect it with all your energy!

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