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You shall not see your brother’s ox or his sheep going astray, and hide yourself from them; you shall certainly bring them back to your brother. (Deuteronomy 22:1)

While the primary emphasis of this command is to point out our responsibility to restore someone’s lost property, the underlying and greater emphasis is that all of God’s people are, indeed, our “brother’s keeper.” If we see something that is amiss — e.g. our brother’s animal going astray — we are not to “hide” ourself. That is to say, we should not disconnect ourselves from the situation and convince ourselves that is none of our business — that would be wrong. In fact, Jewish commentators consider failure to do the right thing in this scenario to be equivalent to stealing the animal from our neighbor: we knew it was their animal but refused to do the right thing.

A situation such as this might be trivial to us, especially in the kind of world we live in today, but in that time the loss of an animal may have had a huge impact on someone’s life. In some cases, it could have been life altering, especially if that animal was depended upon for sustenance. The point is, we need to consider our brother and what such a loss might mean to them and not just how inconvenient the situation might be for us. As it is written, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). 

Let us also consider that the Father isn’t asking us to do something that He is unwilling to do or hasn’t already done. I’ll put it this way — He took the time to get involved in our business when He noticed that we were going astray. We, like sheep, have all gotten lost and would have remained that way had He not gotten involved. Not only did He get involved, but He saw to it that we were restored to the sheepfold and cared for by the Great Shepherd Himself. Seeing that He has been so gracious to us, how can we not “pay it forward” as they say, and be gracious to others? So help your neighbor along the way even as God has helped you to find the way.

Blessings and Shalom,  




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