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When you lend your brother anything, you shall not go into his house to get his pledge. You shall stand outside, and the man to whom you lend shall bring the pledge out to you. And if the man is poor, you shall not keep his pledge overnight. (Deuteronomy 24:10-12)

Throughout the Scripture, regard for our fellow man is paramount in God’s eyes, being synonymous with the command to love the Almighty with all our heart. In short, if we don’t love our fellow man, then how can we say we love Him? Therefore, in day to day dealings with others, we must always consider their welfare even if they owe us something. Not only that, even if they are indebted to us, we must continue to show them respect as an equal — not as someone inferior. In other words, we are to spare their dignity regardless of the debt which means we have no right to invade their home and privacy.

We are also instructed never to deprive someone of anything that could help them support their family. For instance, in this same chapter it is recorded that, “No man shall take the lower or the upper millstone in pledge, for he takes one’s living in pledge” (Deuteronomy 24:6). If a person were to do this, they would render the mill as useless and, consequently, deprive someone of their livelihood, and in reality, their life. The emphasis of these commands should be clear: treat people kindly and fairly because, in God’s eyes, this is a demonstration of righteousness (Deuteronomy 24:13).

Interestingly, the Hebrew word for “charity” is the same word for “righteousness” — צדקה tzedakah. This is the same word used when Scripture said that Abraham believed God and it was “accounted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). The point is that no one can claim to be pursuing righteousness while, at the same time, pursuing wealth at the expense of others. Of course it is proper to expect them to repay what they owe but, still, it would seem that God expects us to be abundantly patient with those who are indebted to us just as He is patient with all who are indebted to Him. If He is gracious to us (and He is) should we not be gracious to our fellow man?

Blessings and Shalom,  




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