the gift of a good neighbor

Good neighbors are truly one of God’s greatest gifts. I am thankful for my neighbors every day. Yesterday was no exception. Technology and I have been engaged in a battle recently over my blog settings/headings, and technology had me beat. I ended up with two duplicate headings and to make matters worse, if clicked on, nothing was there in either one of them. Then another heading said one thing, but delivered another. I was afraid to press any more buttons, things were getting worse every time I did. So I surrendered to technology for the time being, while I plotted my next move to force technology to bend to my wishes for my blog page. After all, why should technology dictate what that page looks like? It is my vision I want to see put in place. But as I said, with my every click, things got worse, not better.

Enter a good Samaritan, my next door neighbor. In a few minutes, with a few clicks, my mistakes were corrected and all was put right. Oh the gratitude I felt! I had triumphed over technology! Well, technically speaking, it was my neighbor, the good Samaritan, who had achieved the victory but I now reaped the benefit of the victory. My blog page makes sense again. My problem is solved and technology has been put in her place for the moment.

Life comes with no shortage of problems of all kinds. But for every problem there is a good Samaritan waiting in the wings. I am grateful for all the good Samaritans who are my neighbors. My mailbox no longer looks like the leaning tower of Pisa, thanks to their kindness and skill. And I have written before about the “soup Samaritan”, (not to be confused with the “soup nazi” of Seinfeld) who surprises me with hot soup on a cold day.

Now before you start packing up and moving to my neighborhood, I should clarify the concept of neighbor. In Luke I read about a conversation Jesus had with a man who was described as “an expert in the law.”

“But he (the expert in the law) wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ ” (Luke 10:29)

That’s when Jesus tells him the story of the good Samaritan, which has made Samaritan to this day, synonymous with acts of kindness and with being a good neighbor to others. The story is about a traveler who is robbed, beaten and left for dead by the side of a well traveled road. A priest and a Levite, (a very religious person) both pass the traveler by without stopping to offer aide. Then a Samaritan passed by, but he stopped, bandaged the man, put the injured traveler on his own donkey and transported him to an inn. There he paid the innkeeper to look after the man and paid for his room and board in advance, saying he would pay more if needed when he passed through again.

In that culture, at that time, Samaritans were despised and looked down upon by the Jews. So Jesus’s point that it was the Samaritan who did the right thing, the noble thing, the God honoring, God pleasing thing – would have been a rebuke to the “expert in the law” who asked the question in the first place. Turns out, my neighbor is whoever needs my help – not necessarily and not limited to, the person who lives next door to me. Maybe it’s the person I pass on my way to work or someone in my community I haven’t met yet.

I have been the recipient of good Samaritan acts of kindness many times. Inevitably, sometimes I am the one at the side of the road in desperate need of help. Other times, I am in a position where I can provide help to someone else. It is those opportunities that I do not want to miss. I don’t want to turn a deaf ear or a blind eye to someone to whom I can lend a hand, just as the good Samaritan in Jesus’s story did for a complete stranger. In God’s view though, strangers are neighbors, too.

I am grateful for each and every good Samaritan that God sends into my life. Please Lord, send me as a good Samaritan into others’ lives, so that I can be a blessing, just as I have been blessed.

“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” (Hebrews 13:16)

sincerely, Grace Day

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