27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
When it is in the power of your hand to do so.
28 Do not say to your neighbor,
“Go, and come back,
And tomorrow I will give it,”
When you have it with you.
29 Do not devise evil against your neighbor,
For he dwells by you for safety’s sake.
30 Do not strive with a man without cause,
If he has done you no harm.
There are times when wisdom instruction is what we might call a “du moment.” We read it and think, “well of course this is true, why does this need to be said?” Jesus capsulized the entire OT Law in two sentences when He said that it can be fulfilled by loving God and loving others as ourselves. If we were to love God purely and love our neighbors with the same love that we love our own lives, we would never break any of God’s laws. In these proverbs we find some practical ways of taking care of our neighbors with the same care that we would like to be treated.
There are different ways to “withhold good” from others. Gratitude is one way of doing good to one another. When time and energy is taken by one person for the care of another the greatest kindness in return might be a simple “thank you.” The writer reminds us not to withhold good.
Beyond gratitude, this also speaks to caring at levels beyond normal care. There have been people in my life who went beyond normal care to help me. I remember them all. When we see someone in need and we have the ability to help them through that need, we should. This is loving your neighbor as yourself.
When our neighbor has a need, we ought not make them wait if we are able to help them. Why put them off until tomorrow when they have a need today? How would we feel if we had a need today and someone put us off until tomorrow? Again, loving others as we love ourselves is the fulfillment of the Law.
Protecting those near us is another form of loving them. We do not devise evil against ourselves nor should we devise evil against a neighbor, one who is near to us. When others devise evil we should walk away and warn the one who is being devised against. Loving others as we love ourselves has some practical actions that Solomon clearly speaks to.
Of course, our nearest neighbors are our family members, those we work next to, and those we go to church with. Our physical neighbors are also worthy of our love and care. Let us seek to love all of our neighbors as we love ourselves.
As I write these devotionals now to audiences on two continents, I need to be more clear with my prayer requests. As I asked prayer for Edna yesterday I did not know that there was an Edna in Indonesia who is anticipating surgery. Edna in Illinois had her surgery yesterday. Thank you for your prayers for her.
Yesterday afternoon we took Caleb and Linsey to a zoo in Jakarta. We were amazed again at the wonderful variety of God’s creation. From the Komodo dragon, to the pelicans to a wide variety of monkeys and apes and more, the wonder of God’s creative genius is on beautiful display. And of course, since it is the tropics, the foliage is thick and green. We were able to get a chair for Jared to wheel him around and he especially enjoyed the gorilla and the monkeys. Jared is a big fan of Tarzan so they reminded him of Kerchack and Tarzan’s friends.
Have a great day in the Lord,