Those in need are owed the help you can provide

God’s view of ownership and rights differs from what we may typically think.

God’s view of ownership and rights differs from what we may typically think.

Proverbs 3:27-28 – Do not withhold good from those to whom it belongs when it’s in your power to help them. If you can help your neighbor now, don’t say, “Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you.”

Yeshua taught his followers, “Do to others as you would like them to do to you,” (Luke 6:31 ). The compassion of those who claim to fear Yahweh transcends any petty differences, stinginess, or inconvenience in timing.

Luke 11:5-8 – He also said to them: “Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, “because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I don’t have anything to offer him.’ “Then he will answer from inside and say, ‘Don’t bother me! The door is already locked, and my children and I have gone to bed. I can’t get up to give you anything.’ “I tell you, even though he won’t get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his friend’s shameless boldness, he will get up and give him as much as he needs.

While the context of Yeshua’s teaching here is on the persistence of asking as it relates to prayer, it also highlights the resistance of the friend to meet the need of someone else because of the inconvenience.

It must be understood that in the culture of that day, not having anything to offer a guest who has unexpectedly shown up was a considered to be a rude social situation that dishonors the guest. This was considered a higher priority than the apparent greater rudeness of waking up a neighbor to have them provide some food in the middle of the night.

As much as I would not like to admit it, I can certainly identify with the friend inside the house. But the proverb says not to withhold good from someone when it is in your power to help them. Therefore, as believers we can learn the expectation that God has for us to meet the needs of others, even if, or especially when, it may be inconvenient timing.

I also find it interesting that the proverb say not to withhold good “from those to whom it belongs.” This is an unusual phrase which indicates that if we are resistant to provide someone else help when we have the ability to do so, we are withholding something that is already theirs; they are the “owner” of the good that we can do. For us to follow up by not providing the good thing, we are, in a sense, holding on to something for ourselves that actually already belongs to them. From God’s perspective, being stingy or hard-hearted is actually a form of stealing; we are keeping for ourselves something which in reality belongs to someone else. In God’s eyes, ownership of some thing or action is not possession of that thing or ability, but true ownership belongs to whom that thing or action is due.

How can this type of thinking change your perspective on what you have and how you respond to the needs of others? As believers, we need to strive to maintain God’s perspective, not our own.

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