I love living in a small town.  Our boys just got a new sandbox and it seems like the whole town is celebrating with them.  Before we even got the lumber to build it, we had told the boys what we were planning and they started to tell nearly everyone they saw that they were getting a sandbox.

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It did not take long for word to spread about our boy’s excitement.  Then when we finally got the lumber, numerous residents were able to pass by and see that we were starting some sort of project.  Thus more people saw what was happening.  Then as we were building it and filling it with sand others stopped by to share the joy our children were experiencing. 
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What really made the project special is that I had started to build the sandbox before ordering any sand and once it was built a local businessman heard about it and offered free sand that had come from a hole he had dug for another project.  Furthermore, some friends not only delivered the sand, but they dumped it into the sandbox for us.
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One of the complaints I have heard about small towns is the lack of privacy and that everyone knows your business.  I’ve always lived in a rural area, so I’m used to it and not bothered by it. We must realize that there is a huge difference between malicious gossip and a caring community.  The news about our sandbox was not gossip and it led to a great blessing for us.
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I am so thankful to live in a caring community that knows about joyful events in our lives and is excited about celebrating those joys with us.  I enjoy that the lady who was out for her walk saw the boys helping us carry boards for the sandbox and then cared enough to ask about it later.  I enjoyed the excitement on her face as she realized how much fun the kids would have playing in the sand.
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I have spoken to people who have moved from a rural area into a big city and they do not even know their next door neighbors.  I would not want to trade the love and joy that comes from our neighbors being part of our lives for the lonely privacy of other areas.  The first and greatest commandment is to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
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As we show love for our neighbors and get involved in their lives, we must have the discernment to understand that there are certain things that we learn that should be kept private and there are other joys we should share.  Our love for them should drive that discernment.  For example there is a huge difference between sharing exciting news about a new sandbox verses sharing scandalous news about the fight you overheard your neighbors having.
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If the news you are sharing about others is meant to wound them, that is gossip and is not showing love for them.  Proverbs 18:8 says, “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.”
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In small towns we are able to share a lot of news about each other and that is a good thing as long as it is not news that wounds.  Rather than being discouraged that everyone knows your business, let us live in an upright manner so that it doesn’t matter that they know what we are doing, and then enjoy the love of community.  At the same time realize that none of us are perfect, and be careful not to share private information that could hurt someone else.