Sunday, July 19, 2009

Take time to help your neighbor Dt 22:1-4

"You shall not see your countryman's ox or his sheep straying away, and pay no attention to them; you shall certainly bring them back to your countryman. If your countryman is not near you, or if you do not know him, then you shall bring it home to your house, and it shall remain with you until your countryman looks for it; then you shall restore it to him. Thus you shall do with his donkey, and you shall do the same with his garment, and you shall do likewise with anything lost by your countryman, which he has lost and you have found. You are not allowed to neglect them. You shall not see your countryman's donkey or his ox fallen down on the way, and pay no attention to them; you shall certainly help him to raise them up." (Deuteronomy 22:1-4)
Cain asked this question of God, "am I my brother's keeper?" (Genesis 4:9) While it is not our jobs to keep track of our brothers and sisters, and their whereabouts, we still have a responsibility to each other as fellow human beings who have been created in the image of God. God intends us to care for one another and to look after the interests of each other.

There are two important points that this scripture brings out. First, the the phrase "pay no attention" is translated in other versions as, do not "hide yourself from them" (Deuteronomy 22:1 NKJV). We all lead busy lives and it is easy to purposely blind our eyes to the needs and concerns of others. When confronted with a need, it is all too easy to turn away and justify our selfish interests. I remember how God taught me this lesson. We were living in Las Vegas and I had to run out to the grocery store late at night. I was in a hurry and anxious to get back home. As I was leaving the store, I saw a couple struggling to start their car. Being in a hurry I prayed and asked the Lord that they might not notice me or ask me for a "jump" so that I could get right home and not have to spend time helping them. However, as I got into my car and went to start it, it wouldn't start! I got out and looked under the hood (not that I would have known what to look for or what to do). Then I tried again; nothing! By this time the other couple had left and I couldn't even ask them for a "jump". I realized the lesson God was trying to teach me. We are never too busy to help one another. Fortunately, the problem was minor and I was soon on my way, but I had learned a valuable lesson. John put it this way, "But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?" (1 John 3:17)

Secondly, the phrase "you shall certainly" is also translated as "thou shalt in any case". (Deuteronomy 22:1 Darby) This term implies a turning back or to return. The idea is of one going along his way and seeing his neighbor's cow has gotten loose. He then gets the cow and "turns back" to return the cow to his neighbor. He temporarily puts on hold his journey to take care and return of his neighbor's cow. Sometimes we have to put on hold, or temporarily suspend, what we are doing to care for one another. OK, so we might be a few minutes late to church, but isn't it better to help a neighbor in need than to just speed past them on our way to church. Sometimes we are so absorbed in our own lives and with our own needs that we fail to see the needs of other around us. We need to allow our focus to be turned by the needs of others; we need to let our conscience expand beyond its present limits to include the lives of others. Paul put it this way, "But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it." (1 Corinthians 12:24-26) The word "care" used here means to have "anxiety for" or to "be distracted" by the things around us. God intends that we should be distracted by the needs of others around us; to be distracted from our own needs and interest to those of others. It is not enough to "care" in feelings but we mist be willing to be "distracted", and even interrupted, in our actions and the course of our everyday life.

David Robison

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1 comment:

  1. I have found that when I have been distracted, i.e. when I have disturbed the plans and order of the day, when I get ready for bed, I realize that this day, this disturbed, distracted day has been one of my more pleasant, better-all-around days. Interesting, isn't it?