"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
September 28, 2011
We have all heard of a person being referred to as being a Good Samaritan. Basically, that means that they helped someone who was in need. There are those who would think, "Shouldn't that be what we all do?" But there are many who will only stop what they're doing as long as they aren't inconvenienced themselves or if others are around to notice. And then there are some who are too busy with their own agenda to even consider reaching out to someone in need.
In Luke 10:25-37 Jesus shares the parable of the Good Samaritan. "On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. 'Teacher,' he asked, 'what must I do to inherit eternal life?' 'What is written in the law?' He replied. 'How do you read it?' He answered: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 'You have answered correctly,' Jesus replied. 'Do this and you will live.' But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?' In reply Jesus said: 'A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.' 'Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?' 'The expert in the law replied, 'The one who had mercy on him.' Jesus told him, 'Go and do likewise.'"
We tend to think of our neighbor as being those who live next door to us. And that is one definition of what a neighbor is. But another definition of neighbor is: "Any person in need of one's help or kindness (after biblical use): Love thy neighbor as thyself."
Many times people can come up with all kinds of excuses for not helping someone; and some may be legitimate, but often it's because they don't want to be bothered. Acts of kindness are meaningful to those who receive them, but should also be worthwhile to those who are giving. It shouldn't feel bothersome, or stressful, or done out of a sense of guilt.
In the parable that Jesus told, two men saw the man lying there, beaten and half dead, but they chose to go around him and pass by on the other side of the road. Perhaps they didn't want to be bothered, or they were on their way somewhere and were in a hurry, or didn't want the liability of caring for a hurt man, or were afraid the robbers were hiding nearby and would beat them if they stopped to help, or worried that this was a trap. But the Samaritan had compassion and chose to do what he could to help the man. He bandaged the wounds, put the man on his donkey and took him to an inn, spent the night taking care of him, then paid for expense of the innkeeper to look after him, promising to return and pay any extra expense that may have come up after his departure.
He could have chosen to leave after cleansing the man's wounds and bandaging them. After all, wouldn't that have been a good neighbor? He didn't pass by on the other side of the road, but actually stopped to help. Or taking the man to an inn and dropping him off, wouldn't that have been a good neighbor? That would have provided the wounded man shelter for the night. But he went the extra mile, and cared for the man himself throughout the night, then paid for the expense of any additional care.
I will never forget the "Good Samaritan" who came to my aid several years ago. My sister, Shirley, was on bed rest during one of her pregnancies and I drove to Texas to stay with her family for a few weeks to help out. I had followed my uncle and aunt as far as Dallas, where they stopped to visit their daughter and son-in-law, then I drove the rest of the 3 1/2 hours to Austin by myself. This was back in the days before cell phones. I was traveling down the interstate and was probably 30 minutes from the exit to my sister's house when I had a blowout. Traffic was heavy and I was in the passing lane, but I managed to get off the road. There was absolutely nothing around and I had no idea how far it would be to go call for help. The only thing I knew to do was get my spare tire out and hope that either someone would stop to help, or I'd figure out how to change the tire. We had made good time and were earlier than expected, so I knew my sister and brother-in-law wouldn't come looking for me for a few hours. Truckers and other drivers would go by and honk, which was really irritating. I will admit that I was a little scared. I was unloading my trunk, so that I could get to my spare and jack, when I looked up and saw this really nice car pass by, then the tail lights go on as they slowed down and pulled over. The car backed up to where I was and an older couple got out. They were dressed up in a suit and nice dress and were on their way to a wedding. But he took the time to stop and change my flat tire for me, without worrying about getting his hands or clothes dirty. His wife told me that they have daughters and when they drove by and saw me, she knew that he wouldn't be able to go on by without helping. They refused any payment for their time and help, and he said if it was one of his girls sitting beside the road, he hoped that someone would take the time to stop and help them.
I sometimes watch "Six in the Morning", which is a local morning news show. They recently did a news story that I believe was also on the national news. A 21-year old university student from Utah was on his motorcycle and collided with a car. He had laid his bike down and slid along the road, trying to protect himself. The bike hit the car's hood and bounced to the ground, the motorcyclist slid underneath the car, then both vehicles burst into flames. Disregarding their own safety, university students and others who were nearby acted quickly and rushed to the street and worked together to lift the car high enough for one of the rescuers to reach under the car and pull the young man to safety. One of the rescuers said that he knew the chance of the young man dying if nothing was done was 100%, but if he weighed the chance of being in danger himself to help it was going to be low in comparison. The rescue video was captured by an university staffer who had seen the smoke and saw the people rush in to help. The young man only suffered a broken pelvis, both legs broken, road rash, and some burns. Sounds like a lot, but very minor compared to what it could have been. He did an interview and said he can't believe it when he watches the video and sees himself being rescued and lying spread-eagle on the ground. He realizes that his life has been spared for a reason, and said that he will live each day as if it's his last because after what he went through and seeing how close he came to losing his life, he realizes it very well could be. His family is grateful for the heroes who came to his aid and risked their lives doing it and commented that "it restores your faith in humanity".
So often we only hear the bad and forget that there really are a lot of exceptional, big-hearted people in this world. If we're not careful, we become so focused on the negative and get caught up in hearing and thinking about what all is wrong, that we fail to remember that there are a lot of really good people surrounding us and in our nation. Not everyone is bad, and not everyone is out to get you, and not everyone is self-centered.
But being a good neighbor is not only those "big" events that occur when someone is in trouble or there is a huge need present. We can all find ways to be good neighbors each and every day, if we will just take the time to look for opportunities. It may be taking the time to greet someone with a smile and kind word. It may be stopping what you're doing and listening to someone who needs to talk; and I'm not necessarily talking about someone going through hard times who needs a shoulder to cry on, but there are a lot of lonely individuals who just want someone to visit with them.
There have been times when Jon and I, or sometimes just I, have been loading or unloading something from the back of the truck and our neighbor's son has been outside and will ask if we need his help. The other day I was "spot mowing" our yard because the only places that needed mowed was the ditch and bank and a few other straggly places. There is a strip right next to our yard that is actually on our neighbor's property and his responsibility to mow. But there were only a few spots that needed gone over by the mower, and I thought, "Why not just do it so they don't have to; after all, it won't take but a couple minutes." I'm not sure they noticed that I did that for them, but that wasn't the point. I didn't do it for a big thank you or recognition, or so they would owe me; I did it to help them out so they wouldn't have to do it themselves. I was at Walmart and had bought a big cooler recently and one of the men who work there told me that he would be glad to load it up for me. I had managed to get it into the cart and could have slid it into the back of the truck, but he wanted to help, so I let him; and it was easier for him to lift it into the back of the truck than it would have been for me. My niece or sister have picked up our mail for us when we've been out of town. My point is, a lot of times it's those small things that we do for others, or that others do for us, that falls into the "good neighbor" category.
A couple years ago, Jon was driving to Claremore to work at a job and someone had apparently thrown out a lit cigarette and it had started a small grass fire in the median. Jon saw it and pulled off to the shoulder of the road and ran over and began stomping it out. In that scenario, there was no one involved that he was helping, but the wind could have came up and caught it or it could have spread and it caused a lot of damage, had it not been put out. Instead of seeing it and driving on by, hoping that someone else would stop and put it out, he was willing to get dirty and stinky from the smell of smoke and do it himself. I have teased him about getting his new shoes (at that time) all smoky and dirty, but I was really proud of him for stopping. Jon could have thought, "I'm on my way to a job and will be representing our company to customers, so don't want to show up dirty or smelling like smoke. Someone else will see it and stop to put the fire out. Besides, it's not my responsibility to put out the fire; after all, I'm not the one who threw out the cigarette and started it!" But being a Good Samaritan is not about considering whose responsibility it is, but it's us seeing a need and reacting to take care of it.
We all have opportunities to be a Good Samaritan, or a good neighbor. And it can be done in so many different ways such as: giving money, loaning out something that we have that someone else needs, giving someone a ride, buying groceries or cooking a meal for someone, helping an individual lift or load something that is heavy, having a listening ear, taking time to visit with someone who is lonely, changing a flat tire, stomping out a small fire, and the list could go on and on. Sometimes it may consist of us giving of our finances. But probably one of the hardest things for us to give is our time; whether it's changing our own schedule in order to accommodate someone else, or taking the time to sit and visit with someone with whom we may not particularly enjoy talking, or putting our personal agenda aside so we can help someone in need. It may be just showing mercy to an individual.
The rewards of being a Good Samaritan and a good neighbor are numerous. It may be the reward of seeing someone smile, or the satisfaction of knowing that you were able to meet a need, or the joy that comes from reaching out to others or just doing a good deed. But your reward may not be instantaneous; for you may not get a thanks or a kind word from the one you helped, or no one may not even realize that you did anything. But if you remain faithful and continue being a good neighbor anyway (with a good attitude), you will one day hear Jesus say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." That will be the greatest reward any of us could ever receive.
I thought I'd just add that when I stopped to stomp out the grass fire, someone else stopped, too. He thought I'd dropped something and was willing to give up some of his time to help me find whatever it was. He helped put out the fire instead.
I also heard later, that the fire was mentioned on a radio station. I don't know if someone called 911, or just the radio station. But I can just imagine a truck full of fire fighters pulling up, looking for a fire.
Some of the funnest things to do for others are anonymous. You can leave things someone needs on their doorstep (as long as they use their door instead of the garage). You could also go through a church to give something for a family in need. Or you could mow someone's lawn while they are out. It's a great feeling to see them so happy, but not know who to thank.
Lately Jon has had to work late more often than not, and most days I have no idea what time he will get home, which makes it difficult to plans meals. We all have those times when we need faster, easier meal ideas, so here are a few I've come up with:
*Macaroni & Cheese -- to make it a meal I've browned sausage or hamburger or diced up ham and added it into the cooked macaroni & cheese; then I will either add some extra grated cheese to the mixture or sprinkle on top.
*One of my favorites is buying a rotisserie chicken from Walmart or a supermarket deli: The first night I may fix a couple baked potatoes (microwaving the potatoes are fast and easy) to go with the chicken. Then there are a lot of other uses for the rest of the chicken, which I will debone. You can make chicken salad, chicken and dumplings (or noodles), chicken enchiladas, mexican chicken casserole, quesadillas, chimichangas, or nacho's.... really anything where you can use shredded chicken. We normally get at least 3-4 meals out of the rotisserie chicken for the two of us.
*Sandwiches: egg salad or chicken salad; if I use lunch meat sometimes I will buy specialty breads from a deli (normally Walmart -- I like the cheese bread but try different ones) or croissants, or a different flavored sliced cheese (swiss, provolone, pepper jack), or get a couple different types of lunchmeat for a sub, or try a different type of sauce (honey mustard, vinaigrette, chipotle southwest, ranch, oils) to dress the sandwich up some and make it a little more tasteful and "fancy" than a plain old sandwich.
*This isn't quick and easy, but great for when you don't know for sure what time you're going to eat, or when you are busy, or when you want to put something on and forget it, or don't want to heat the house up...... Crock pots -- gotta love 'em!! I really like using the crock pot as much as possible because it's so easy. It's nice because you can turn it down to the low or warm setting to keep food hot for however long you need, after cooking. I make lots of soups (taco soup, potato soup, vegetable soup, etc.) and chili when the weather is cold; you can also make roast; pork chops with mushroom gravy; chicken and rice; brisket; pork tenderloin; brown beans and ham; and the list goes on and on.......
Jon's Aunt Jan babysat him when he was a little boy, before he started school. Recently, she was sharing some stories she remembers about Jon from back in those days. One time, Jon was playing with something and another little boy wanted it. He told Jon that he was supposed to share, but Jon didn't hand it over and give it to him. The little boy then told Jon, "The Bible says you have to share!" Jon replied, "Well, we're not playing Bible!!"
"Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy." - Leo Buscaglia
We love you!
Loretta & Jon