Like a Good Neighbor! - What does a “good neighbor” do?
A good neighbor embodies the golden rule.
Paul Williams, a friend, preacher, church planter and author for the Christian Standard gives Jesus’ Good Samaritan parable a new twist. Paul writes,
“This guy was headed down the mountain from Jerusalem to Jericho and he got to this place where there were nothing but burned-out cars and stray engine blocks and he was mugged and left for dead. A priest came by but he was pressed for time, and a Levite came by, but he had a budget to balance, and the poor guy by the side of the road was not having a real good day.
“Then a Samaritan came by who understood something about pain and suffering the priest and Levite did not understand, and he chose to have compassion on the man. He bandaged his wounds, risking AIDS. He put him on his donkey, risking a lawsuit should the injured man fall off. And he paid for his medical care without government assistance. And Jesus said, ‘Now that’s my idea of a neighbor.’”[i]
May I provide another story? This one really happened! Some things are hard to imagine. Scrounging for food from anyone – anywhere? Trying to live life without parental support. And getting swept out into the Indian Ocean by a tsunami. Wati knows all three. Just who is Wati? At the age of 8 she was feared dead after she was separated from her Mom and two siblings when the Indonesian tsunami engulfed her village in West Aceh the day after Christmas 2004. But she didn’t die. The tsunami pulled her into the ocean and she drifted on who knows what to the nearby city of Meulaboh. There she remained for 7 years. Most residents thought she was a beggar, another street child. Possibly suffering from shock or separation anxiety – something - she mustered enough courage to walk into a café trying to find a way to get home, but she couldn’t remember exactly where home was! The only name she could recall was her grandfather – Ibrahim. Someone took her to the only Ibrahim they knew and he quickly identified her as his missing granddaughter. Her parents recognized her immediately because above her eyebrow was the same small scar she had when she was six! She left them on December 24, 2004 only to return on December 22, 2011 at the age of 15. Officials believe she wandered throughout most of the district.[ii]
I cannot imagine being that little girl or any child wanting help, but not finding any. Picture yourself in need. No one will help you. No one will stop along the highway. Or your air conditioner won’t work and no one will let you in. I can’t imagine this happening to me, so I’d better make sure it does not happen to someone else. Turn in your Bibles today to Luke 10:25. I love being the bearer of good news. First, we give out free Bibles at WCC. If you need one raise your hand. Good News #2: VBS begins in 24 hours. #3: Meet two new ministry partners at Westerville Christian: Jon & Kristen Couser. They have four children – Owen, Eli, Evan and Jenna. GN #4: (New Neighbor Caring Kit!) Speaking of neighbors. Here’s my all-time favorite State Farm commercial. (Bob Barker) State Farm tells us that a good neighbor will be there when you need them. But you do have to pay for their insurance, right? Jesus asks and answers the same question. Just what does it mean to be a good neighbor? A good neighbor looks for opportunities to help a person in need. That person might be someone who know or someone you’ve never met. They could be friends or family or maybe even your enemy! Let’s read starting at verse 30. (Read 30-33)
Within these four verses there’s a collection of people and where there are people there are attitudes[iii]. There’s a man in verse 30. He was certainly a Jew. Robbers attack him. To the robbers this man was another person to exploit! Mark Moore writes, “They thought, “What’s yours is mine!”[iv] There were two religious men – a priest and a Levite. Their attitude was this wounded man was a problem to avoid. They thought, “What’s mine is mine. This is my time, my dime and I’m not spending either on you!” There was also a Samaritan. His attitude was that this wounded man was a human being worth being cared for. He thought, “What’s mine is yours?” And did he ever prove it. Words are good, but talk can be cheap unless backed up by action. The Samaritan showed compassion, used his first aid kit of wine and oil, put the man on his own donkey and paid for it all out of his own pocket! Now my question is why? Follow the paper trail. Go back up to verse 27 in Luke 10. Read verse 27. Now go to Matthew 22:37. Read 37-40. Now where have I heard that before? Turn to Matthew 7:12. Jesus is smack dab in the middle of a sermon. Mark Stier is going to unpack Jesus’ sermon series here in the month of July in a series he’s calling Radical.
Allow me to borrow Mark’s title for a moment when it comes to two scriptures. Radical passage #1: Love your neighbor as yourself. That passage has a little to do with self-esteem and allot to do with sheer obedience. Jesus blows out of the water the notion that a neighbor is only someone like you or me. That a neighbor has to be a friend. That a neighbor has to live next door. A neighbor happens to be anyone who has a need. Radical passage #2: Do to others what you would have them do to you! I blame Becky Medley. I’ve read this apology before, but I’ve never seen actual pictures. A husband and wife are arguing. Of all things – putting up the Christmas lights. He writes out an apology. Here it is!
Hi Sweetheart, I am sorry about getting into an argument about putting up the Christmas lights. I guess that sometimes I feel like you are pushing me too hard when you want something. I realize that I was wrong and I am apologizing for being such a hard-headed guy. All I want is for you to be happy and be able to enjoy the holiday season. Nothing brightens the Christmas spirit like Christmas lights! I took the time to hang the lights for you today; and now I will be off to the hockey rink. Again, I am very sorry for the way I acted yesterday. I'll be home later. Love you! Here’s how he hung the Christmas lights! Here’s her response -
Hi Honey, Thank you for that heart-felt apology. I don't often get an apology from you, and I truly appreciate it. I, too, felt bad about the argument and wanted to apologize. I realize that I can sometimes be a little pushy. I will try to respect your feelings from now on. Thank you for taking the time to hang the Christmas lights for me. It really means a lot. In the spirit of giving, I washed your truck for you; and now I am off to the mall. I love you too! And where did his truck end up? I think that’s funny, but man, do these two ever have issues! They did to each other what neither wanted done. A neighbor according to Jesus embodies the golden rule! Rule! “Greg, I hate rules!” Really? How about if everyone drives through red lights? The rule actually brings freedom. Without it – we’d have traveling chaos because everyone would be looking out for themselves. What makes this rule golden? It’s valuable. It sums up the OT and Jesus’ Sermon of the Mount! What Jesus said was positive – Do to others what you would have them do to you - making the rule radical. What Rabbi Hillel said was negative, “What is hateful to you, do not do to anyone else.”[v]
Now what do I hate? When my car gets keyed or someone takes my stuff or when someone rubs it in that they won or I lost! Have you heard the latest radio ad for TimberTech? A couple wants to build a deck. The husband wants to use wood. The wife wants to use TimberTech. TimberTech, apparently, is a composite material that is resistant to fading, scratching or staining. The husband goes with the wood. Bad choice and his wife won’t let him forget it. Everyday she’s tells him, “I told you so. I told you we should have gone with TimberTech.” Who wants to hear “I told you so every day?” I don’t. I’d hate that so I’d better make sure I’m not saying that to anyone else. But that’s negative. Jesus is being positive. Do to others what you would have them do to you.
I want forgiveness. I’ll be willing to forgive. I want a hot meal. I’ll give you a hot meal. I want compassion. I’ll show you compassion. I picture Moses coming down from Mt. Sinai caring two stone tablets. One tablet sums up our love for God. Worship him only. Don’t bow down to any graven image. Don’t take his name in vain and keep the Sabbath. The 2nd tablet sums up our love for people. Honor your parents, honor life, honor your spouse, choose not to steal, lie or covet! All ten can be summed up in one sentence. Do to others what you would have them do to you. A good neighbor brings to life the golden rule. Now let’s go and do likewise! Jesus sure did.
[i] Paul S. Williams, Five Minutes on Preaching
[ii] FoxNews.com Girl Swept Away in Indian Ocean, December 22, 2011
[iii] Life Application Bible Study Notes, 2161
[iv] Mark. E. Moore, The Chronological Life of Christ, 374
[v] MacArthur Bible Commentary, 1134