By Irvin Himmel
Wearing Out Our Welcome
Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbor’s house; lest he be weary of thee, and so hate thee (Prov. 25:17).
My first acquaintance with this proverb was during my freshman year in college. Some of the boys whose dormitory room was down the hall from mine had posted Solomon’s wise words on their door.
Value of Visiting
In this age when more and more people are making their lives TV-centered rather than Christ-centered, the disposition to visit is declining. Christians cannot afford to lose sight of the value of visiting.
(1) To get acquainted. In some congregations there are members who never visit in the homes of other members, consequently they know each other only in a casual way. A visitation committee sounds too formal and a bit artificial, but I confess that I had rather see somebody doing some visiting than nobody. We need to get acquainted with new members and prospective members.
(2) For social purposes. By nature we are social creatures. We need the association of other people. Individuals who isolate themselves from the company of others are missing out on friendships that enrich life.
(3) To teach or admonish. There are many who need instruction from the word of God. They are not getting it in church services because they are not attending those services. There are backsliders and negligent people who need to be admonished Calling on others to teach or admonish them is a noble work. Some can be reached through personal visits who will never be reached in other ways.
(4) To aid sick and shut-ins. Some elderly people need regular visits. They need help to do their shopping, house cleaning, etc. Some have prolonged illnesses that keep them confined. They appreciate visits to cheer them and encourage them. It is easy to forget the aged and shut-ins. This we must not do. Visits to people in the hospital should be brief and in strict accordance with hospital rules.
(5) To show personal interest. When someone has lost a loved one, a visit to express sympathy may be in order. When it is sensed that someone is despondent or having a serious problem, a visit from a friend can be helpful. A brief visit to welcome a newcomer may be long remembered. There are times when it means so much just to know that others care.
Visitation Without Vexation
Too frequent visiting of an acquaintance, or staying too long during a visit, can be annoying. People who appreciate another’s interest in them resent being smothered. A welcome visit can be turned into an unwelcome intrusion.
Blessed is the man who can visit his neighbor as a friend, not as a pest! it is better that one’s neighbor rejoice over his visit than over his termination of a visit!
Good manners, courtesy, and respect for the time and privacy of a friend should govern our visiting his home. “There should be a sacred reserve of a delicate mutual respect even in the most intimate relations of friendship” (E. Johnson).
The proverb under consideration is translated as follows in the New International Version: “Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house – too much of you, and he will hate you.”
The principle of the proverb will apply to telephone calls. Some people like to visit by phone. They call a neighbor or a friend, not for anything important, but only to chat. An occasional call of this type may be appreciated, but too many such calls can be a nuisance.
He who is vigilant in his visiting avoids vexing his neighbor. If too much visiting makes a neighbor feel like a victim, the visitor may be viewed as a villain.
Guardian of Truth XXX: 24, p. 746
December 18, 1986