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“No Parts Left Over!” Psalm 37: 25-26 Key verse(s): 25: “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.”

When I was a boy I received one of those expensive model cars for Christmas. It was not your typical model with only about a hundred pieces, pre-painted and easy to assemble. No, this model came with hundreds of pieces. Even the engine block had to be assembled and there were tiny little spark plug wires to install. It wasn’t the kind of model that could be put together in an afternoon or even in a day or two. This was the kind of model that required patient assembly, attention to detail, and not just a modest attempt at finding where all the pieces went.

I was excited when I opened the gift, sensing that here was a model car that would do more than just represent the real thing. It had real rubber tires with whitewalls. As soon as Christmas vacation commenced I eagerly set to work early one morning to dig into the project and at least get a feel for how much work was involved. Since directions aren’t something a boy looks at on Christmas Eve, I now found myself compelled to read just what was expected of me. After nearly an hour of reading the pages of “take care and don’t . . . “ as well as “be sure that you first . . .” I set the instructions down in despair. Boy, this was a project that was going to take entirely too long to complete. I wanted the car, but I wasn’t looking forward to all the work. Later that evening when my dad came home from work I complained to him that if I was too do everything that the instructions were telling me to do, “I would still be putting this thing together next Christmas!” Sensing that I was looking to him for some idea of how much of myself I needed to put into the project, he picked up the model box, looked at the picture of the beautiful Austin-Healey on the lid and then set the box down. “I guess that’s up to you. But, if you don’t do all you can do, the best way that you can, it really isn’t worth doing--is it?”

That model taught me a good lesson. I wanted it to look just like the replica on the box lid. That was the goal. My dad knew that when I was finished with it the model would probably look like it but not be the exact and perfected image of it. That was not what really mattered. What mattered was that I put my best effort in place and gave it my all. When I finished the model there were dabs of glue here and there that showed. Painting wasn’t really my strong suit so there were streaks and dull spots. I did have trouble with the small wires on the engine and some plastic pieces just didn’t fit together as well as I would have liked. Nevertheless, it appeared a reasonable facsimile of the image on the box lid. And, importantly, I had no parts left over.

When we as Christians are presented with an opportunity to show mercy and kindness to someone less fortunate than ourselves, we have two basic directions we can take. We can take the easy way out and ignore the problem by doing nothing or doing the minimum amount required. Often we rationalize the decision by saying that someone else will do the rest and, besides, God even works good through poverty. Offering little in the way of ourselves with the exception of, perhaps, our good advice, is not a substitute for doing good all the time. The second route, the route of making sure that we do the very best we can, with no “parts leftover” when we are finished, is the route God wants each of us to choose; especially when it is a Christian brother or sister on the other end of our charity. Yes, there are government programs that are designed to take care of these people. But these things are no substitute for Christian love. There is no substitute for putting your best Christian effort forward at all times; to “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all people you can, as long as ever you can.” No parts left over!

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