Show mercy and compassion to one another. Zechariah 7:9
Jose, a seventy-seven-year-old substitute teacher, had been living out of his car for eight years. Every night, the elderly man bunked down in his 1997 Ford Thunderbird LX, carefully monitoring the car battery as it powered his computer for his evening’s work. Instead of using the money earmarked for rent, Jose sent it to numerous family members in Mexico who needed it more. Early every morning, one of the teacher’s former students saw Jose rummaging through his trunk. “I just felt I needed to do something about it,” the man said. So, he launched a fundraiser and weeks later handed Jose a check to help him pay for a place to live.
Though Scripture repeatedly instructs us to watch out for one another, it’s sometimes difficult to see past our own concerns. The prophet Zechariah rebuked Israel who, rather than worshiping God or serving others, were “feasting for [them]selves” (Zechariah 7:6). Ignoring their shared communal life, they disregarded their neighbors’ need. Zechariah made God’s instructions clear: the people were to “administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another . . . [and] not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor” (vv. 9–10).
While it’s easy to be consumed with our own needs, faithfulness calls us to tend to the needs of others. In the divine economy, there’s plenty for all. And God, in His mercy, chooses to use us to give some of that plenty to others.
Who are some of the people that you’re responsible to care for? Where do you find yourself consumed with your own concerns?
God, please give me a greater vision to care for my neighbors.
Zechariah, whose name means “God remembers,” was both a prophet and a priest. He was among the first of the Jewish exiles to return to Jerusalem. In Zechariah 7, a delegation from Bethel in the neighboring tribe of Benjamin had come to seek his advice (vv. 2–3). Zechariah told them that God remembered their hypocrisy of the previous seventy years (vv. 4–7). They’d been going through the motions of worship, including fasting, but their hearts were far from God. So, they were far from meeting the needs of their neighbors, especially the oppressed (vv. 9–10). God also remembered His people and His covenant with them, however. He called them out precisely because they belonged to Him. It would run contrary to His nature to forget them. Thus, the entirety of chapter 8 outlines the ways God will again bless them.