They helped every one his neighbor; and every one said to his brother, Be of good courage.…
They helped every one his neighbour; and every one said to his brother, Be of good courage. The subject is - Helpfulness. Not mere help, but fulness of help. There may be a help that is tardy, that is somewhat sparse and niggardly; and there may be help which is not helpful in the best sense. This help to which our text refers was accompanied by encouragement - that truest and wisest of all help, which, by giving courage, gives strength. Buildings cannot be built by an architect alone. The inferior hand is as needful as the superior. Read the description: "So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith, and he that smootheth with the hammer him that smote the anvil, saying, It is ready for the soldering." Each man in his place, and fit for his place. So it must be in human life; and, as civilization develops, each man must attend more and more upon one thing. It will not do to play at art, or architecture, or merchandise, or ministry. Each in his place. So it must be in the Church - there must be mutual help, mutual encouragement. We ought to feel indebted to each other. We ought to be inspirational to each other.
I. HELP IS TO BE UNIVERSAL. They helped "every one." It will not do to evade our own share of toil. Work cannot be done by command or contrivance, but by the constraint of a ready mind. Socialism seems to be disturbing the Continent. It may be a destructive power, but never can be a constructive one. If human beings were machines to be set in order by one hand, it might be so; but they are not. See how Proudhon and Fourier adjust all the social arrangements to a nicety; the Phalange, or the body of associated labourers; the Phalanstere, or the habitation assigned to each, where the four great departments of nature - the material, the organic, the animal, and the social - are provided for. What a scheme! How philosophic it looks - on paper! But what madness to try and make it work, when the derangement of one part would be the derangement of the complicated whole! Who is to restrain the leaders and organizers from craft and selfishness and guile? Difficult as it is to secure good government in general functions in society, who could secure it in a ramified system? Then one will not work, and another will drink, and another will laugh, and another will sleep, and in one brief day some will be better off than others, and the perfect arrangements will fly to pieces before the touchstone of actual life. No; God meant diversity. God meant diligence to be rewarded. Riches and honour come of the Lord, and if there were no incentives to progress and culture and invention, there would be no advancing civilization. Socialism cannot make men work; it would want an army to compel them. The right way is Christ's way. Look every man also on the things of another. Use ability, genius, education, wealth, honour, well, so as to bless others. None are more despicable than those who look alone to being helped. Everything must be ready for them. The way they speak to servants is detestable. They complain if the physician does not come at once - if they are not the first considered by others. Don't they pay? Terrible neglect; they are not helped. Money does not satisfy their indebtedness. Let us see whom they help - if they are swift to speak the generous word, to perform the brave and noble deed. There are, however, some lives - and they must be dread histories - which are spent in fashionable gossip and superficial pleasure-seeking, with no care for others. We see, then,
(1) there must be mutuality;
(2) there must be energy.
Not the help which is mere gift, perhaps easy and costless, but the help which costs service and sacrifice.
II. HELP IS TO BEGIN AT THE NEAREST POINT. "His neighbour" - the nearest person to him. The gospel teaching is to begin at Jerusalem. Home, for instance, is to be a scene of help. There are occasions every day in which we can help each other's comfort, growth, education, freedom from anxiety, and increase in the pleasure of life as life. A man's character is judged of in his home, his Church, his village, his town, his neighbourhood. The eloquent assailer of public wrongs may be other than a patriot at home.
1. This is the help which only he can render; being the neighbour, he is the nearest.
2. This does not bind him by religious "views" or party spirit. He is to help in the great temple of humanity as well as the temple of the Lord God. "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them." There are charities, I find, which, not content with being Christian, wish to know what people's "views" are! What an atmosphere! No. Christ did not ask who were Samaritans, Syro-phoenicians, Greeks, or Jews. "He went about doing good."
III. HELP IS TO BE INSPIRATIONAL, That is to say, it is not to assist laziness or to excuse mere incompetence. "Every one said to his brother, Be of good courage."
1. Courage; for fear is weakness. Those who expect failure court failure. I am wonderstruck at Stanley's courage at the Falls, especially after Pocock was dead. It is marvellous! Think of that poor native who rushed from the presence of the dreadful roaring river into the wilderness.
2. Courage; for God is your Helper. Man is weak! Yes; but read the tenth verse: "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee." That is an inspiration indeed - God in Christ working in us and with us. He who gave himself' for us, now working in and with us. What courage this inspires! "In me is thine help found." "Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help!" We shall find all worldliness to be weakness in the end.
3. Courage; for no work is so hard as it looks. There are creative times. What is the dreamer worth when difficult duties have to be done?
4. Courage; for cowards make cowards. Live with persons constantly afraid of fire, of midnight marauders, of infection, of disease, and you will become nervous yourself. If children grow up amid the timorous, they become timorous. But born in the fishing-cove on the beach, how they pull out the boat into the wild sea! accustomed to scenes of courage, they learn courage. Never dispirit others. Say not, "This sum will never be raised. These schools can never be built. This class will never prosper." But say rather, "Be of good courage."
5. Courage; for hindrances will flee before faith. Say to the mountain, "Be thou cast into the sea." Strange that it should obey thee! But it does, for it was a mountain of the mind. Courage is not quixotic; it is founded on faith - on the Word, and cross, and throne of the Lord Jesus Christ. Mutual hell) is what we want. Not the sentimental grievance from some that they are not the subjects of perennial attention and ever-delicate consideration, but the help which is the spirit of all Christian life, because it was the law of his life" who came, not to be ministered unto, but to minister." - W.M.S.
Parallel VersesKJV: They helped every one his neighbour; and every one said to his brother, Be of good courage.