Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Little Engine was a good neighbor



There are several lessons we can take away from the story The Little Engine that Could.  One that I hadn't noticed until last week, when I my son decided he wanted to listen to it a lot of times in a row (which I didn't really mind because I love that book), is that it's a good Samaritan (or good neighbor) story.

When the little train's engine couldn't make it any further, the toys try to get help from passersby.  They ask the shiny new engine, but his response is that he won't stoop that low because he carries passenger and dining cars.  The next one who wanders by is also too good to help, because he's important carrying heavy machinery.  Then an older engine comes by but simply says he's too tired and that he can't.

Then another engine comes along.  It's shiny and small, really an unlikely candidate to help.  He starts off by asking what the problem was while being friendly and positive.  With his "I think I can" attitude he offers a helping hand and together they make it over the mountain to help the boys and girls on the other side.

See why it reminds me of the parable Jesus taught of the Good Samaritan?  (Parable below.)  While many would just pass the hurt man on the road thinking that they were either to high to help or that someone else would, finally the most unlikely candidate steps up to the task.  This unlikely person was a Samaritan or person of a different race, and not only helps the man there, but takes him to safety, cleans him up, feeds him and cares for him.

How many tasks do we pass up because we think we are too skilled or too good to do them?  How many people do we pass by without even giving them so much as a smile or hello, let alone a helping hand?  How many ministries do we support who help people in need?  How many people do we open our homes to?  The list goes on of questions we could and should ask ourselves about how we are doing as neighbors and what we can do to change.  

Jesus made a clear point about who the neighborly person was, or good neighbor was.  But in the end, even if we are nice to our neighbors (here and there and everywhere) but don't share with them the motive of why we are nice--it's all for not.  We must love because He first loved us.  We are nice because Jesus was nice when we weren't even capable of being nice.  The good things we express are only because they are attributes of God that we are reflecting.  This world needs Jesus.  


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 was attacked by 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 own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.  The next day he took out two denarii 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.”  
Luke 10:25-37

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