Trick or Treat

What does it look like to “love your neighbor” on All Hallows’ Eve?

This is one day of the year that many of your neighbors come to your house. So why not treat them with love rather than just candy?

Maybe the best way to discuss how to love your neighbors today is to list a few ways not to treat them. Don’t be Ned Flanders. People too often see Christians’ actions on days like this as tricks; we act like we love them, but they clearly see our ulterior motives. They perceive that we are not treating them with love at all. It’s all a big trick.

Here are 7 trick-or-treat tips for real Christ followers:

  • Love your neighbors with no strings attached. Don’t hand out Halloween gospel tracks (or political fliers!).
  • Love your neighbors extravagantly. Don’t be cheap, chintzy, or corny (nobody likes those little bags of candy corn!) with your treats.
  • Love your neighbors by being there. Don’t be that Christian couple on the street who turns the lights out but keeps the TV on and ignores trick-or-treaters.
  • Love your neighbors relationally. The thing we have to offer our neighbors is a relationship—with us and with God (see 1 John 1:3). So take time to look at each child and parent, smile, make an encouraging comment about their costume, engage them for a moment because you care for them. Don’t miss the opportunity to love each kid and parent with a warm attitude and kind words.
  • Love your neighbors boldly and wisely. An authentic follower of Jesus is unafraid of professing his name, but is also wise. “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” … “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (Col. 4:5-6; 1 Pet. 3:15, emphasis added). Don’t confuse boldness with rudeness or disrespect.
  • Love your neighbors appropriately. I wish I didn’t need to mention this one, but be careful not to take the previous points overboard. You can be the light of the world without being weird, inappropriate, and culturally insensitive. Don’t make the treat exchange or conversation awkward.
  • Most importantly, love your neighbors with God’s love. Pray before trick-or-treaters arrive at your door, that he will work through you in a way only he can to spread light. Allow him to overflow from you. He is able to do immeasurably more than you can ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within you (Eph. 3:20).  Don’t take matters into your own hands.

Agree or disagree with me on any of these tips? Want to add your own tips to this discussion? Scroll down and click the box below to comment! 

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Michael Mack has led Small Group Leadership full-time since 2012, but has been involved in small group ministry for more than 25 years. He lives in Pewee Valley, Kentucky (just outside Louisville), with his wife Heidi. Their family small group, which includes their four young adult children, has much potential (and much anticipation) for future growth and multiplication. Michael enjoys mountain and road biking with a group of great friends who participate together in various charity rides. See the "About Michael Mack" page under About Us for more about him.

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