Deuteronomy 22:1-4, Helping your Neighbor

Jesus instructed his followers to love their neighbors (Mark 12:28-31, John 13:34-35).  What does loving your neighbor look like?  It could be something like caring for the mugged Samaritan man (which today might look something more like caring for an illegal immigrant in need). It could be something as simple as taking your neighbors a meal when they are ill or have faced a disaster, or it might be sharing the gospel and praying for them.  There are many ways to show love for your neighbor.  In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses tells us one way to care for our neighbors:    

“You shall not see your brother's* ox or his sheep going astray and ignore them. You shall take them back to your brother. [2] And if he does not live near you and you do not know who he is, you shall bring it home to your house, and it shall stay with you until your brother seeks it. Then you shall restore it to him.  [3] And you shall do the same with his donkey or with his garment, or with any lost thing of your brother's, which he loses and you find; you may not ignore it. [4] You shall not see your brother's donkey or his ox fallen down by the way and ignore them. You shall help him to lift them up again."  [Deuteronomy 22:1-4, ESV]

So keep an eye out.  Your neighbor probably doesn't own any farm animals, but look for ways to help care for your neighbor's stuff.  Maybe he left his lights on--save him from a dead battery in the morning.  Maybe it's raining and the UPS driver left a package out where it can get wet.  Maybe you've found the neighbor's family dog that has gotten out.  Helping your neighbor in a time of need may provide a great opportunity for you get to know him or her better; and it's a great way to show love as Christ instructed us to do.

*On a technical note, there's some discussion as to the word translated as 'brother' in the ESV version above.  The Hebrew word can mean brother or kinsman or potentially even neighbor. Some argue that this level of care should be reserved for family; however, I would argue that the familial use of brother is not the best way to think about brother in this passage. Look at verse 2.  Notice that there is a possibility that you might now know the owner of the ox or sheep.  Therefore, you are told to care for the animal until the owner is determined.  It would be challenging to reserve this kind of care to family if you don't even know who the owner of the animal is.  I would think then, this passage is calling us to help all those around us, potentially everybody we come in contact with.

**Photo is registered under a creative commons license: / CC BY 2.0