Saturday, December 23, 2006

Caring means Loving our Neighbour

This picture was painted by my mother especially for the blog


I’m still talking about the 6 pillars of Character – Remember what they are? That’s TeRRiFiCC!! Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship.

In my last blog, I was talking about Caring, and I pointed to a few examples of Caring that I found in the Old Testament. I mentioned I would write about the “Good Samaritan” in my next blog.

1 John 3:16-18 says

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

Read the parable as Jesus told it in Luke 10:25 – 37. Instead of merely recounting the story, I hope you will allow me a little artistic licence and since it is Christmas time, I thought it would be fun to relate the story Pantomime style. This panto is set in South Africa, in 2006. (Actually, it’s more of skit than a full on Panto!)

The Cast

The Narrator: Jesus himself.

A Bible school student: Young man, early 20’s, rides a mountain bike, carries a Bible in a Bible bag, complete with notebook, and pen.

The traveler: Ordinary South African, middle-class, drives a nice car, but not too flashy.

Hijackers: need I say more?

Tele-evangelist: Flash looking, tailored suit, fancy hair-style. Chauffer driven Merc (latest model.) Speaks with an affected American Drawl.

Tele-evangelist’s chauffeur: Wears a chauffeur uniform.

Deacon Fred: Middle aged, conservative dress (smart), short back and sides haircut. Drives a Ford pick-up. His accent suggests he was educated at a private Boys school in Kwazulu-Natal.

Sam: Rather eccentric, a bit hippie, drives a multi-coloured VW-Beetle. Wears a bandana round his bald head. Accent and language is hip and happening. “Yeah dude!, W’sup?”

NB: All characters (except Jesus) are fictional and any similarity between them and people in real life is entirely, co-incidental.

Note all vehicles, except the student’s bike are stage set facades, only the side of the vehicle.

The Story

Curtains open and the Narrator is walking down a road. The Bible school student recognizes the Narrator as one of his/her lecturers. He catches up and stops to talk to him.

Bible Student (BS): Good morning sir! Having a nice day?

Narrator: Yes, actually thought I’d take advantage of the lovely weather to get some exercise, and you, where are you off to today?

BS: Oh, just taking a ride down to the local shop, thought I might see if there’s anyone I can persuade to come to church tomorrow. Tell me sir, what would you say, if someone asked: “How can I inherit eternal life?”

Narrator: Well, what would you say to them?

BS: Well in Deuteronomy 6 verse 5 it says “Love the Lord your heart and all your soul and all your strength”

Narrator: Mmmm

BS: And Leviticus 19 verse 18b says: Love your neighbour as yourself.

Narrator: So, what’s the problem, if you can do that, you will be alright.

BS: Yes, well, I suppose so, but suppose they ask “Who is my neighbour?” What do I say then?

Narrator: Let me tell you a story…..

Narrator and BS move to the side. As the Narrator speaks, the traveler comes on stage in his Peugeot Station Wagon. He’s traveling alone.

Narrator: A young businessman was driving down to Durban, from Jo’burg. He was going through Van Reenen’s Pass, when he pulled into a lay-by to stretch his legs. No sooner had he pulled over, [Enter hijackers – they act out the attack as it is being told] when a whole lot of hijackers jumped out of the bush, and knocked him down. They punched and kicked him, and he was in a bad way. They hit him so hard on the head that his ears were ringing. He felt like his whole body was on fire. They frisked him and relieved him of his wallet and his cell-phone. They then jumped into his car, and drove away at top speed down the highway. [exit hijackers and traveler’s car] The poor man just lay there, hoping that someone might come past and notice him.

BS: What happened next? Did the guy die?

Narrator: No, but he needed medical attention. A few minutes after the attack, a big chauffeur driven Mercedes drove past. In the back, rode a well known tele-evangelist, The Reverend Matt Bishop.

Chauffeur and Tele-Evangelist come on stage in a Merc. Emblazoned on the side of the car are the words “BISHOP MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL”

Chauffeur: Hey, did you see that man lying on the ground? It looks like he’s been attacked. Do you think we should stop and help him?

Tele-Evangelist: Are you mad, man? We have a HEALING SHOW, I mean service tonight at 6 p.m. in Durban and we need to get to my hotel room by 3:30 p.m. so that I can get in my beauty sleep, before I start getting ready. We haven’t got time to stop and mess around.

Narrator: So they carried on their merry way, without a second thought for the poor man. A short time later, Deacon Fred came along the road. He was heading up to Jo’burg. He saw, our traveler lying on the ground and writhing in pain.

Deacon Fred: (to himself but out loud) That’s truly awful! The crime in this country is out of control. That poor fellow’s probably lost everything he has. Hope, he’s insured. The government really should do something about all this crime. I’d love to be able to help him, but you can never be too careful. After all, it may be a trap! As soon as I stop, they will jump out and steal my car. Still, I suppose I should pray for him…

BS: What did he pray?

Narrator: I don’t know, I don’t think God heard him.

BS: Well, did the guy just die there?

Narrator: No, not long after Deacon Fred, Sam drove past in his VW Beetle.

Sam comes on stage in the multi-coloured VW beetle and almost immediately notices the traveler in the lay-by. He pulls over.

Sam: Hey dude, what happened to you, man? You look pretty bad, man. Ag Shame. What can I do? Hey Dude, all this blood you’re losing, we need to get to a doc, like yesterday man. Hijacked hey? Poor guy. Hey, I’d give you tea or something, but you shouldn’t drink anything, in case you need an operation and they need to give you an anesthetic. Got this first aid kit in my car, carry it just in case. [takes out first aid kit, puts on Rubber gloves, removes bandages, ointment, etc.] Chill dude, it’s okay. Don’t thank me, it’s the least I could have done. Let me just get some ointment on this cut here, and then I will bandage it up. My bandages aren’t much, but they’re only temporary. The hospital will do a much better job. Now let’s see. How should we do this? Wait! I can’t move you, in case you’ve broken your back, or something. [Pause – puts ear near the traveler] What? You think your back’s ok. Okay listen, I’ll just get Herbie over here then, and you can lie down on the back seat while I take you to the nearest hospital. Sam, gets in “Herbie” and drives closer to the traveler. Sam gently helps Traveler to his feet and moves. Easy does it now! He helps him “get in” and then drives off stage.

Narrator: Later at the hospital, Sam made sure that the traveler was settled in, and had been seen by a doctor. He paid a deposit to cover the man’s hospitalization, and left his name and address, so that the hospital could forward the full account to him.

The Narrator: Well, who was a neighbour to that traveller?

BS: It the guy who stopped and helped him.

The Narrator: Yes, now you see, we need to be like him. He may not fit your mould of the “ideal Christian,” but he showed his love in practical ways. The best preaching is often done without words!

In the parable, as Jesus told it, the supposed heroes, the priest and the Levite, actually turn out to be the villains. The Samaritan, who was despised, emerged as the real hero of the story.

The message of the parable is clear: Your neighbour is everyone and anyone you come into contact with, regardless of race, religion or any other perceived difference. From the passage in 1 John quoted at the beginning, and many more beside, we learn that loving our neighbour means much more than merely mouthing the words, it must come from the heart, and it must be practical. It means being compassionate to everyone. It means we must care.

I’d like to say thanks to Mum for reading through umpteen drafts and giving her input especially in regard to correct English. Thanks too, to my nephew, and gave me a few pointers in writing this script. You input is valued. Thanks to you readers, and those who give me feedback. Now I wrote this skit just as kind of different way to tell the story, but if you want to use it, feel free. (I’d appreciate being told about it.)

In next blog, (the last on this topic) I will look at some of the excuses people make to justify their own failure to care.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


Heart: Caring
No, It is not Valentine’s Day. The subject of this blog is the value of Caring, the fifth of six values promoted by The Character Counts foundation.


Caring occurs at many levels and in many different ways. Because of this, it is hard to define in a succinct sentence. For the purpose of this discussion, I shall restrict myself to “caring for people,” although we also should care for animals, our environment, and property. I have highlighted the word in RED because Red is the colour ascribed to it by the Character Counts! Foundation.



What springs to mind when I think of CARING is the relationship between a parent and a child. Either the parent cares for the child, in terms of the child’s physical and emotional needs, or later in life, the child is caring for his or her parent in a similar way. It is widely accepted and expected that a parent should take care of his her child, provide food, shelter and clothing and then beyond an atmosphere in which the child can develop intellectually, physically and emotionally. A parent provides security for the child and a parent does his or her best to shield their child from harm.


Not wanting to undermine or diminish the familial obligation to care, it does stretch beyond that.


If we look in the Bible, we can see many examples of caring:


Pharaoh’s Daughter & Moses.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. “Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the river bank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her slave girl to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.


Then his sister [Miriam] asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”


“Yes, go,” she answered. And the girl went and got the baby’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water.”- Exodus 2:5-10


Shobi, Makir and Barzillai bring needed supplies to David and his men during the revolt of Absolom;

When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and Makir son of Ammiel from Lo Debar and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim brought bedding and bowls and articles of pottery. They also brought wheat and barley, flour and roasted grain, beans and lentils, honey and curds, sheep and cheese from cows’ milk for David and his people to eat. For they said, “The people have become hungry and tired and thirsty in the desert.” – 2 Samuel 17:27-29


These are just two examples, in the Old Testament that speak of people who showed compassion, and as a result took practical steps to help. Clearly, God used these people, in circumstances that God’s people found themselves. Clearly Pharaoh’s daughter was not Jewish. As I will point out in the next blogs,


Caring should be not be reserved for our own families, or even our own racial, ethnic or cultural group, but should be extended to everyone.


 Pharaoh’s daughter did not focus on the fact that Moses was a Jew, though the text makes it clear that she knew he was one of the Hebrew babies, but what she focused on was that there was a baby in need. Yes the Lord moved in her heart and so orchestrated the situation to bring about his desired result, just as he may call on you to be caring to fellow human being who needs your help.


I had not previously read this story of Shobi, Makir and Barzillai.


The son of Nahash. Nahash, king of the Ammonites was no friend of the Jewish people. It is not clear here if the word “son” is literally implied, or meaning descendent of Nahash but the point to note in this context is that Shobi was not Jewish. Interesting background on Nahash can be found in 1Sam. 11 and 12:12


Son of Ammiel. He was Jewish. He lived in the land of Lo Debar (meaning pastureless). Makir cared for Mephibosheth, the lame son of Jonathan from the time he was a child of 5 years old into adulthood. It would be reasonable to assume that Makir took on the role of foster father of Mephibosheth when he was brought to him. Some years later, David called for Mephibosheth, and to honour his covenant with Mephibosheth’s father and David’s very close friend, Jonathan, David took steps to ensure that Mephibosheth was provided for the rest of his life. You can read it in 2 Samuel 9:1-13 . Looking at the timeline, we can safely assume that Makir was by this an old man.


Described as a Gileadite , Barzillai was of the half tribe of Mannasseh. Gilead, the place, was east of the Jordan River. Could it be that Barzillai was regarded as a bit of an “outsider?” We read more about Barzillai in 1 Sam 19 where the account of David’s return to the palace. We learn from that passage that Barzillai was an old man, 80 years old.


Two or possibly three old men, one of them not Jewish, came to the aid of David and his men. They brought much needed supplies to them. Sometimes, we are tempted to make excuses as to why we are not in a position to help or care, but these three men serve as an example of how they served despite their age, or their social status. They may not have been able to become fighters alongside David, but their role of bringing food to David and his men, was as essential as the role of those on the frontline. We should not waste time bemoaning the fact that we can’t help in some “BIG” way, but see what we CAN do and know that our contribution is important too.


Caring, is I think a value in life that demands more of us than the other values we’ve been discussing. If you love someone, caring comes as a natural outflow of that love.


John 13:34 – [Jesus said,] “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you so you must love one another. By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.”


1 Corinthians 12:25b-26 “..., but that its parts [parts of the Body – the Church] should have equal concern for one another. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.


1 Corinthians 13:3-4 “If I give all I possess to the poor….but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind, …”

In other words Caring without love is a waste of time, but love is caring.


Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and keep oneself from being polluted by the world.


James 2 – The whole chapter has relevance, but I highlight just verses 15 to 17: “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you say to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith, by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead”


1 Peter 4:10 – Each of you should use whatever gift he has received  to serve others, faithfully administering God’s Grace in its various forms.


1 John 4: 19-21 “We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must love his brother. (I need to point out that Peter was not speaking merely about blood-relative, but anyone and everyone.)


The quintessential text about caring is the story of the Good Samaritan. We will examine the Parable of the Good Samaritan in the next blog.


Coming Soon, to a computer screen near you!

The Good Samaritan