I am working on an Address, Loving your neighbor and yourself, and have been delighted to see how often this has been appearing in our Bible Lessons and in our periodical articles. There is another one in this week's Lesson on Life.
It is in the familiar story of Elisha and the woman who comes to him in a panic because her husband has died, leaving her and her two sons with a large unpaid debt. I have always loved the way Elisha responds. He does not offer her money. He does not say he will go to her creditor and plead on her behalf. He asks her a question: "What hast thou in the house"? In Christian Science we think of 'house' as 'spiritual consciousness', so he was redirecting her thought from material lack to spiritual supply and substance. She tells him all she has is a pot of oil. He doesn't commiserate, he gives her direction. "Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbors, even empty vessels; borrow not a few". She obeys and is able to fill all the vessels from her one pot of oil, sell enough to pay off the debt, and still have what she and her sons need to live on.
What I was thinking about this morning were those neighbors. It may have taken much courage on her part to go to them and ask for the loan of pots. Surely they were aware of her circumstances. She might even have asked them for help before. They might have chosen to refuse her the use of the pots as there was a good chance they would be confiscated to pay her debt and they would lose them. But it appears that those neighbors lent her pots and not a few.
What I am taking away from this today is the response of those neighbors in the face of the woman's situation. I would hope I would be gracious should any of my neighbors ask for help. We all willingly lend that 'cup of sugar' but what if the need is not material?
Suppose you are aware that your neighbor can't get to the store. Do you remember to ask if you can pick something up for them on your next trip into town?
What if one of your neighbors suffers the loss of a loved one? Do you make time to drop by with flowers or a casserole and stay to bring them comfort?
If a neighbor has shown even the slightest interest in your study of Christian Science have you shared a Sentinel article, introduced them to the reading room, invited them to a Wednesday evening meeting or a lecture?
I must do a better job of 'lending pots' right here in my own neighborhood.