Last weekend I attended the CityLife Church Casey Men’s Breakfast. There was the heart stopping bacon, sausages, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms on toast with a lathering of tomato sauce. All washed down with real coffee properly created and dispensed by two smiling baristas. Yeah! Blokes being blokes together.

At one point we had a competition. Muscle men to lift barbells to the usual “Tim-the-Toolman” grunts. The contestants had to lift and hold the barbells. As usual, and with time, those barbells get heavier and heavier. The twist was not who could hold them the longest but who would have two guys jump up to help one of them hold the barbell and lighten the load… but no one knew this was the actual challenge except the two guys doing the lifting, and Tom.

Tom, the overseer of the competition, spoke gently to the men as the competition progressed… and the contestants meanwhile groaned, hammed it up a bit and hinted at the desire for help.

As Tom’s words were being digested, and with subtle hinting and encouraging of the men to respond appropriately, it began to dawn on a few of the guys just what needed to be done.  Eventually, a few guys really got it. Courage began to rise. Gingerly they rose…waiting to be told to sit. Then when no rebuke came, they pressed forward and proceeded to grab hold of each end of a barbell and took up the strain…  immediately the winners were declared!

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:  If they fall down, they can help each other up. But pity those who fall and have no one to help them up!   Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?  Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

How true! We can do so much more when others step in to help us or when we look out for one another and take the courage to help someone in need… especially when it’s not that obvious or if it will cost us something – time, money, boldness… even our life!

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
–Martin Luther King Jr

This got me to thinking, “Do I really get this? Who should I be looking to help?”

The answer came in this piece of wisdom:

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 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.”
Luke 10:25-37f

And I love the final part of this story, because it ends with:

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Luke 10:37f

So, who is your neighbour?

Be courageous!