If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, return it by sunset. Exodus 22:26
Phillip’s father suffered from severe mental illness and had left home to live on the streets. After Cyndi and her young son Phillip spent a day searching for him, Phillip was rightly concerned for his dad’s well-being. He asked his mother whether his father and other people without homes were warm. In response, they launched an effort to collect and distribute blankets and cold-weather gear to homeless people in the area. For more than a decade, Cyndi has considered it her life’s work, crediting her son and her deep faith in God for awakening her to the hardship of being without a warm place to sleep.
The Bible has long taught us to respond to the needs of others. In the book of Exodus, Moses records a set of principles to guide our interaction with those who lack plentiful resources. When we’re moved to supply the needs of another, we’re to “not treat it like a business deal” and should make no gain or profit from it (Exodus 22:25). If a person’s cloak was taken as collateral, it was to be returned by sunset “because that cloak is the only covering your neighbor has. What else can they sleep in?” (v. 27).
Let’s ask God to open our eyes and hearts to see how we can ease the pain of those who are suffering. Whether we seek to meet the needs of many—as Cyndi and Phillip have—or those of a single person, we honor Him by treating them with dignity and care.
How has God supplied your needs through others? Whose needs might you be able to supply?
Heavenly Father, please open my eyes to the needs of others.
God gave the Ten Commandments to instruct His people how to bring honor to God through their lives. Commandments 1-4 (Exodus 20:1-11) instruct us to love God and commandments 5-10 (vv. 12-17) deal with loving our neighbor (Leviticus 19:18, 34). Moses then laid down various stipulations to teach God’s people how to love their neighbors (Exodus 21:1-23:9). In Exodus 22:21-27, Moses teaches us how to love the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan—the epitome of the poorest of the poor in ancient Jewish society. Love for neighbors means justice and compassion for the needy. Moses reminded the Israelites that God “shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing” (Deuteronomy 10:17-18). And Moses warned, “Cursed is anyone who withholds justice from the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow” (27:19).