You are here: More Websites >> Friends in the City

PDF of article

Expressing Love to One's Neighbors


Purpose or goal

To encourage people to discover new ways to express "love for neighbor" ... and then do to it!



Not much is needed - paper, pencils, etc. You may want a way to tabulate individual results - chalkboard, etc.

It is recommended that this activity be done with the handout entitled, "Expressing Love for Neighbors." Depending on the education level of the group, you may need to explain the "hierarchy" concept - the fact that certain obligations take precedence over others. (Example: "Love for God" takes precedence over "Love for neighbor"; and "Love for neighbor" takes precedence over "Love for self"; etc.)

This activity requires participation of the entire group - and (hopefully) a willingness to apply what they learn!



Scripture often reminds us not only to talk about love, but to connect that talk with action. The activity described below is designed to help the participants learn new ways to actively express "love for neighbor." The handout ("Expressing Love for Neighbors") presents an overview of the concept of love. (As used here, the term "neighbor" can refer to anyone, not just someone living next door!)

Our goal: To encourage people to discover new ways to express "love for neighbor" ... and then do to it!

After introducing the topic, everyone should write down various suggestions of how a person can express love to his neighbor. When everyone is done, the results can be shared and discussed. Since there are a wide variety of ways that people can express love, and people tend to think of different ideas, each person can learn from the rest of the group. If desired, the results can be collated, and the results used in a follow-up study. (See: "Further things to do," below.)


Our results (when we did this activity)

The results given by five different people are shown in the "Individual Results," below.

I then grouped the suggestions into several basic categories and subcategories. At times, this included duplicate suggestions, if more than one person said the same thing. See the "Combined Results," below. (Note: During the initial activity, you can list basic categories on a chalk board or an overhead transparency. You may want to hand out a printed copy later.)

Though we didn't do it (because of the small number of participants), these results could have been reduced to a shorter list that grouped similar suggestions into generalized statements about "ways we can express love to neighbors."

Here are some observations I made about the suggestions that were made in our group. (The results in your group may vary.)

  1. Some suggestions were rather general; others were very specific.
  2. There were three general emphases: 1) giving something; 2) doing something; and 3) being with someone (interacting with them, talking to them, etc.).
  3. Most of the suggestions focused on things we could do or give, etc. A few of them focused on not doing or not giving, etc. Though often overlooked, this second group is important to remember. Sometimes love is best expressed by what we don't do.
  4. A few of the suggestions that were given could be potentially misguided (if not further qualified). But learning the right ways to express love is what this activity is all about!

Some items that could be discussed during (or after) this activity

  1. Some aspects of love may be overlooked, especially if they are not popular ways to express it. Yet they are still a necessary part of love, and must be practiced when the situation requires it. (As a leader, keep your eyes open for such omissions, so you can point them out.)
    Leaving a person to experience the painful consequences of his actions (especially when he keeps choosing to repeat them) might not be considered "love," by some people. Yet it is love, and is sometimes necessary. Examples: It would not be love to continually feed a person who is habitually lazy (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Also, Jesus frequently expressed love in ways that the religious leaders didn't appreciate - including warning them about their sins!
  2. Some expressions of love could be misguided. Though the specific action could be potentially good in one situation, it could be wrong in another.
    Example: Giving money to a drunk could enable him to buy more alcohol, instead of the nutritious meal he claims he wants to buy
  3. We need to be cautious when we give things to people, for it does not always solve the problem.
    This does not mean that we shouldn't give things. But often the best expression of love will involve something that is more time-consuming.
  4. There is a "hierarchy" in the expression of love; certain things have a greater emphasis or a priority over other things.
    Example: We are to show love to all people, but should have a greater focus on fellow believers - our eternal family (Galatians 6:10).
  5. Don't forget "love for God"! This is never to be ignored. Even our "love for neighbor" is to be done as an expression of "love for God." After all, it is God who commanded that we love our neighbor!
    Normally these two focuses will not contradict each other. But if a contradiction did actually occur, then "love for God" would take precedence over "love for neighbor." Example: "Obedience to authority" (assuming it's a legitimate authority) is an expression of "love for neighbor." But if that authority tried to get you to disobey God, then "love for God" would take precedence over "obedience to authority" (Acts 5:29).

Further things to do:

The specific suggestions a group may give can be organized and further developed, and used for planning future group activities and events, or for encouraging personal expressions of love.

Take the generalizations and develop some specific plan from them.

Example: For the general idea of "Helping the elderly with repairs around their house," a specific plan might be something like, "Fix Mrs. Smith's broken window and leaking faucet." (Make sure you know what you are doing, so you don't turn your faucet project into a bigger plumbing disaster!)

Encourage creativity, both when the suggestions are being written down, and when they are being used to plan for the future. Also encourage wisdom (such as mentioned in the comments above), so that ideas don't accomplish the opposite of what you desire!

It is important that we encourage each other to "live-out" the love that we claim is inside us!

Individual Results


Person 1

 Person 2

 Person 3

Person 4

 Person 5

Combined Results






Our time, maybe even our money

Through what we say and do

Our words and deeds



Visit a sick person

Try to pay attention to what others have to say

Go and talk to them

Just listen, advice

Make a friend

Be a friend


Pray for them

Write a letter of encouragement

Helping people to get through the downside and be on the happy side

Sing to them

Put on a comedy show for them


Listen to your mom/guardian when he/she tells you to do something

Don't rebel against what they have to say or do

Build up

Teach someone a skill

Don't do things that can and will hurt others

Don't do things that can and will hurt yourself

Help homeless to become better in their environment


Do for

Paint a wall

Mow grass for a person with a bad back

Pick up trash; don’t leave your own trash!

Help others by doing nice things for them (& not wanting money <paid back> all the time)

You can always give a helping hand to the one who needs it

Do for
(in general)

Do things for them

Volunteer work



Donate books to people who need them

Donate clothes or food or anything that we don't want or need

Giving clothes

Go and help feed them

Give toys

(in general)

We can help people by donating to them

Giving away things to benefit others - ex. Sacrifice


Give money

Earn money from a lemonade stand to help with any kind of disease

Giving money



Tell them about God

Missionary work

Bring a friend to Christ

Dennis Hinks 2005