Behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.” He said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this, and you will live.” But he, desiring to justify himself, asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Luke 10:25–29


We’re in a season where national and global news seems to be coming at us from every corner, everyone is a reporter or expert, it’s hard to know who and what to trust, and now campaign ads are adding to both the noise and the confusion.  We’re constantly barraged with who to like, who to dislike, who to accept, who to fear, who’s to blame, and what labels to apply to one another. Then there’s COVID-19 and social distancing and only going out when necessary and self-isolation as self-protection.  No wonder we tend to be a bit standoffish.

Jesus had something to say about this, though. In fact, He made it clear in the Greatest Commandment:

And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:35-40

We are expected to love our neighbors. All our neighbors. Even the ones we wish weren’t our neighbors. And that can be hard to accept and harder to do.  That’s why this month’s focus is on our local community and finding ways to show love for our neighbors right here in the Friendsville area.

Start, then, with prayer.

A prayer from Jack Watts of “Pushing Jesus: Helping Wounded Christians Heal”:

Allow me to serve others with a joyful heart;
Never keeping score;
Always giving;
Never expecting to receive.
Allow me to give of myself,
To give of my talents and of my goods,
To give of my time and of my energy,
To give of my heart and of my soul.
Help me understand the needs of others,
Never criticizing,
Never demeaning,
Never scolding,
Never condemning.
You have been so gracious to me,
Always Loving,
Always forgiving,
Always restoring;
Never gloating over my defeats,
Even when I have been so wrong.
Father, keep a condemning spirit
Far from my heart and further from my lips.
Allow me to serve others as You serve,
With gentleness, compassion, and tenderness,
Never diminishing the worth of another,
Choosing to extend mercy to the brokenhearted,
Like You have repeatedly shown it to me,


  • Ask Spirit to help you set aside any preconceived notions and see the people you encounter locally as if you’re seeing yourself or, more importantly, as if you’re seeing Jesus.
  • Ask Spirit to reveal to you those in the community most in need of your service.

The second step is taking action.

  • Once you identify a need, take a personal inventory of your own talents, skills and resources.
    • What can you offer your “neighbor” that will ease their burden?
    • Do you need to seek some personal education on how to better understand their needs?
  • If you’re in a position to work with others to make a better way, ask yourselves where you can have the greatest effect:
    • Is the need you identified something you can remedy alone, or do you need help?
    • Are there existing organizations that can help meet the needs you’ve identified?
    • If there are no existing organizations, is it possible to put together a local grassroots group?

The third step is giving to support your actions:

  • We often connect the word “give” with taking out our wallets or checkbooks and giving someone or some group money. Financial support is definitely a form of giving, but there are other forms of giving as well.
    • Could you organize a yard sale, bake sale, or another type of event to raise any money needed?
    • Could you reorganize your schedule to budget some time to volunteer with a local group?
    • Do you have special skills that a local group is seeking?

Below are resources for your use during your period of prayer (discernment), action, and giving. To access them, just click the tabs.

The following resources are available to guide you on your path to loving your neighbors. All links open in a new window.

Existing projects, activities, and events that you might consider:

  • You can show your support for children and families battling homelessness and raise funds and awareness of this crisis by joining Family Promise of Blount County’s Night Without A Bed on August 7, 2020.  Put up a tent in your back yard. Make a fort in your living room. Wrap up in blankets on the sofa or in a sleeping bag on the floor. Give up your comfortable bed for one night and share the experience with friends and family.
  • The Blount County Office on Aging is looking for some volunteers to help with urgent senior home repairs. Please contact Joani Shaver at the office – (865) 983-8411. It’s a great way to take care of our “neighbors”!
  • The Blount County Community Action Agency is in need of volunteers for a variety of activities. From their website: “We continue to be so proud of the folks who step forward to give of their time, energy and spirit, especially to help those who need an extra hand. Even in this time of precautionary isolation, we still need you to stand ready. We are anticipating that many of our seniors and programs will need additional supports. If you are able to volunteer if needed, please email Tammye Pirie at, she will be in contact with you. We do anticipate that we may have some high capacity limits on our current telephone system. Respectfully, please email instead of calling to offer to volunteer, in efforts to support that our telephone lines are available to best serve our clients in need. Thank you for your incredible support.

Existing fundraising campaigns you can support:

  • The “New Generation Project” will start with an All-Inclusive Playground to provide social interaction between children with and without disabilities. The All-Inclusive Playground and Pavilion area will be able to serve all children. People with disabilities are the largest minority group in the United States and the only one that anyone can join at any time. Your investment will help ensure that children with special needs will be a participant instead of a spectator and provide an opportunity for every child to be able to experience the freedom of being a kid. There are currently two fundraisers for the New Generation Project: