If you see your fellow Israelite’s ox or sheep straying, do not ignore it but be sure to take it back to its owner. If they do not live near you or if you do not know who owns it, take it home with you and keep it until they come looking for it. Then give it back. Do the same if you find their donkey or cloak or anything else they have lost. Do not ignore it. Deuteronomy 22:1-3
We could summarise these instructions by saying: Be kind and do good to others. In ancient cultures, kindness wasn’t highly valued and this is possibly why Moses gave practical examples of doing good.
Today, being kind is usually valued, but it often gets overlooked in our busy, self-absorbed world. The challenge for me is in the first few words, “if you see …”. Often I don’t see because I’m too focussed on my own concerns to notice what’s going on in the lives of others.
When we look at the life of Jesus in the Gospels, he never seems hurried or distracted. He lived anticipating that God was directing his path and calling his attention to the things he needed to see. He always had time for those who interrupted with requests for healing or genuine questions. Jesus didn’t just tell us to be kind, he gave us practical examples. When Peter described Jesus’ ministry to Cornelius, he said Jesus, “went around doing good” (Acts 10:38).
Likewise, Paul instructs Titus to teach God’s people to do good, “in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives” (Titus 3:14).
Being kind by looking out for others and providing for urgent needs, blesses us too because we won’t be living an unproductive life.