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True Meaning of "Neighbor"

Updated: Sep 17, 2020

Several weeks ago, I was about to leave for church, was backing my car out of the driveway when I heard a loud scraping noise that alerted me that something was wrong. The sound was coming from the underside of my motor. Not being mechanically minded though, I had no idea whatsoever as to what could be causing the noise, and whether I should risk driving to church. I got out of the car, walked around to the front to where the radiator is located, and bent down as best I could to try to determine what might be causing the noise.

Now remember (but no, you could not have been aware) that doctors have warned me against bending at the waist, let alone crouching in front of a car to peer underneath. As puzzled as I was, I did not know what to do. Then I heard an unfamiliar voice coming from a neighbor’s home (a neighbor whom I had yet to meet). He called, “Sir, wait, let me help you.” He hastened to where I was, asked me politely to step aside, and he literally crawled underneath my car and pulled from the undergirding a plastic part that had broken loose and was scraping the pavement.

Assuring me that the raucous part was not essential to my driving the car safely, the gentleman pulled it away from the steel rod from which it had broken loose, and promptly took it to the trashcan to dispose of it. “It is nothing for you to worry about, Sir,” he again assured me. “It is sort of like underpinning, mostly for cosmetic purposes, and you really don’t need it replaced, even.” I thanked him profusely and wondered what to do next, but being the way I am, I reached into my billfold and handed him a token of thanks—telling him that except for his intercession, I surely would have needed a mechanic. “I wouldn’t have known what in the world to do,” I lamented (inwardly I was hoping that my offering the money was not an insult).

He raised his hand slightly in a kind gesture of refusal, and then hastened: “You’re on your way to church, aren’t you, Sir?” I nodded—and this is the part that really got to me. “Then, Sir, give to the Lord what you just offered to me—with my thanks!” I swallowed hard, and I thought: Despite the unsettling social situation in today’s world, there are good people everywhere—if only we would allow ourselves to see beyond our own narrow circle of existence (emphasis added). This man was of another race, but a kind person indeed, who saw beyond himself and helped an older gentleman in distress, without expecting anything in return—and not seeing color or ethnicity. How thoroughly encouraging!

I drove to church that Sunday morning with a song: “There’s within my heart a melody,…” Arriving at church, safe and sound (however overused the expression may be), I promptly went to where the collection plates were holding their station, put the money into one of them, paused for a few minutes, and offered a prayer for that kind man who helped someone he did not even know. For me, that was (and still is) the epitome of neighborliness.

Then there is the question, “…And who is my neighbour?” (Luke 10:29). The Lord gave me the answer that day.

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