when it’s in your power to help them.
28 If you can help your neighbor now, don’t say,
“Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you.”
29 Don’t plot harm against your neighbor,
for those who live nearby trust you.
30 Don’t pick a fight without reason,
when no one has done you harm.
Romans 13:7 Pay everyone what you owe him: taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.
Galatians 6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to the family of faith.
We are only stewards of what has been given to us by God. We are not owners. And this is not only material and financial blessings but if God has given us wisdom, energy, health, abilities and skills... then be willing to share it with those in need. "Do not withhold good".
I should be generous in any way that would be helpful, if I have the ability or resources. When someone needs to merge into traffic, I should be generous and allow them to go ahead of me. When someone jumps ahead of me in line, I should be generous and let it go and let them. No skin off my teeth so why not? When someone needs help moving their dog house, do I have the strength and health? Then why not help them? If someone forgot their lunch and I have brought my lunch, cannot I share with them? If I have a good church and someone moves into the neighborhood, shouldn't I share my church by inviting them to come? If I have money in my pocket and someone ahead of my in line runs out of money and has to start putting things back, maybe I should offer to pay the difference? If someone feels in need of prayer can you not pray with or for them?
There is a caveat, "from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them". Are you aware of a need? You can't beat yourself up if you aren't aware of the need. Some people don't want to "bother" others by asking for prayer or putting their need out. Is that a form of pride? I don't know, not trying to judge. Just ask yourself that. There could be perfectly good reasons why you would hide a need, but if you do, you miss the support and prayer of those who care about you. Someone might not think to pray or otherwise help you if they have no idea of the need.
Do they deserve it? Now that doesn't mean we sit on a high horse and judge someone else. But it does seem to mean we should use discernment and wisdom when it comes to how we help someone. We don't want to get in God's way and become someone's God. I.e. they begin to depend on us instead of on God. I'm not their Holy Spirit and I shouldn't push God aside and take care of things myself. I feel like our nation has become that way. The government has deleted God from everything and tried to become God to it's citizens. We will just establish another program, spend more money, make more laws, set up more regulations, hire more people, etc. so that we can take care of everyone and they will never know need. It's totally unrealistic. It's un-doable. But it hasn't stopped our government from trying and spending wads of cash to do so. We also have to use discernment and godly wisdom (which is the context of the whole of chapter 3) to know how to help under God's direction.
If God prompts you to fill a need, don't wait until you talk yourself out of it. That's what verse 28 means. Go ahead and do what you feel God has prompted you to do. Stop and help change the tire for the lady on the side of the road. Don't drive down the road, talk yourself out of it and figure it's too late. Stop, or turn around, or go to the next exit and double back. If God brings a need to your attention, be obedient right then. But don't let someone pressure you into doing something (because then you may be at cross purposes with God who means to take care of the situation in His way or His time) and don't berate yourself if you really didn't even think about it. If you didn't see the need, it's because God had another plan. If you see the need and God prompts you, don't hesitate and don't feel bad later thinking you were foolish. If the person you helped abused your generosity, that's between them and God. You did what God prompted you to do.
We should never plot evil against someone who has trusted us. For instance, our next door neighbor trusts us and we shouldn't abuse that trust to do him/her evil. Our co-worker works with us everyday, they shouldn't have to worry that we have evil designs on them, they trust us. We tend to trust people we see on a daily basis and who we have a relationship with. They are at ease with us and not on guard. But if you abuse that trust and take advantage of them you have not only done evil but added the betrayal to your sin!
Deuteronomy 27:24 Cursed is anyone who kills their neighbor secretly.
When a trusted friend betrays you, the hurt and pain is even deeper. Maybe you've spilled your guts to someone you trusted only to have them use the information against you. They've taken unfair advantage of you. It makes you feel foolish and stupid for trusting them. You feel betrayed in a personal way. Someone you thought of as your friend has done evil against you. The pain is somehow much deeper when it's caused by someone you trusted.
Maybe it's words. Maybe they've stabbed you in the back with someone else to take advantage of you. Maybe it's laughing about you behind your back. Maybe it's lying about you to make themselves look good.
Maybe it's actions. Maybe they've used information from you to climb over you and up the ladder. Maybe it's a trusted friend who takes advantage of knowing your family and household routine to kidnap your child. Maybe it was someone who knew you wouldn't be home and took that time to steal from you. I know of family members who have taken advantage of their parents or aging grandparents in order to steal from them. There are people actually looking for gullible people to befriend so they can learn what they need to know in order to plot against you.
These verses say that we should not be like those kind of wicked people. We should never abuse someone's trust in us and take advantage of them or do them harm. If someone reveals a confidence to us, we should be very careful about sharing it with others. If someone lets their hair down in front of us, we should be careful not to use it against them or to bring more trouble to them. We should be a good neighbor, a good friend, a good co-worker, a good family member, a good church member. We should be someone who is trustworthy.
We should also not go around looking for a fight. Some people just seem to love stirring up trouble and messing with people's minds, causing arguments and fights. That's wrong.
Romans 14:19 So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.
Romans 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
Hebrews 12:14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.
To cause contention and start arguments is wrong. Children argue and fight, adults should have a level head and do what they can to avoid it. I don't mean peace-at-any-cost, but as much as you can, and still follow God first and foremost, then pursue peace. Some people like to start an argument and then sit back and laugh at people who rise to it. Some people like to fight and they like violent drama so it follows them wherever they go. Some people are so evil they deliberately plot to bring about violence. They lay in wait and ambush someone and beat them up. Bullies love taunting and winding themselves up and then beating someone up. Then there are verbal abusers who like yelling, hollering, calling names and saying whatever they can to provoke another person to react. Their intention is to hurt someone deeply without actually laying a hand on them. There are those who seem to have no sense of social graces and they like starting up about politics, religion, and other debating issues so they can see if they can win the competition it causes. They won't back down and before you know it, the shouting has begun. Alcohol is like throwing gas on the fire with these people. They will ruin a party, ruin a family holiday, ruin a trip, ruin a vacation... because they can't stop running their mouths and stirring up trouble. They have no "off" button and they are determined to "win" any discussion.
Don't pick a fight without reason, when no one has done you any harm. Have you ever had a bad day at work and when you get home, you pick a fight with your wife? She has done you no harm, but you just had to start the fight because of your anger or frustrations at work. You jumped on her about something silly or inconsequential and blew it all up and out of proportion. Or maybe you don't like Mr. Smith so you make him the butt of your jokes all day long at the office. If he ever finally has enough and reacts, then you argue with him. "Can't you take a joke?" Or maybe your mother picks on you all day long at the family reunion, always putting you down and slighting you. She's picking a fight, baiting you. When you snap at her, she's suddenly pitiful, "Oh how could you speak like that to your mother?" She's suddenly made you the bad guy after her all day assault. It's best to avoid that situation as best you can. It must be terribly painful when your own parents constantly try to hurt you and start fights! Sometimes, it may mean completely cutting them off if you find it always gets out of hand and leads you to fall into the same old fights. Remember, Joseph FLED from sin when his master's wife wheedled him day in and day out to commit adultery with her and she finally grabbed his coat to pull her to him. He ducked out and fled, leaving her holding his coat. Don't let other people trap you into something that always ends up with the same old same old. Be adult and make decisions that help you remain at peace, even if it means skipping Christmas at the old homeplace. It's better to miss it and have a peaceful Christmas without falling into sin, than to go back into a family maelstrom that always robs you of peace. It's not worth it. And if they make you feel like you are a scrooge because you won't come to see them, let them think it.
So these verses are giving us good, godly wisdom about how to deal with other people in our lives. Be helpful and generous, don't betray the trust of others and do them evil or take advantage of them, and don't get involved in fights over nothing.
- Have you ever felt God prompt you to help someone, just out of the blue? Did you do it or talk yourself out of it?
- Have you ever been generous with someone and they took advantage of you and abused your generosity? How did it make you feel? Were you able to leave it with God and forget about it or did you fret over it and get angry? Did it affect the way you help and give to others? Should it?
- Have you ever felt pushed to give, compelled, coerced, pressured, trapped, even made to feel guilty if you didn't? How did it make you feel? Did it affect the way you help and give to others? Should it?
- What is your motive for giving? Is our motivation important to God?
- Do we negate the good we do by having impure motives, great expectations, desire for acknowledgment?
- Have you ever been stabbed in the back by someone you trusted? Do you think the pain was deeper because it was from someone you trusted?
- Have you ever been hurt by a family member who took advantage of you? Have you been able to forgive that person? Has it affected your life or relationships since? Do you understand that forgiveness is an act of the will, not based on feeling and has nothing to do with whether or not you remember the offense. It also doesn't mean you throw wisdom and discernment out the door. You forgive because God asks us to forgive. We forgive because He forgave us. We forgive with the supernatural help of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes it takes time but it should be a goal for us. We also can still use wisdom and discernment to not let the person further abuse us by not getting ourselves back in the same situation. For instance, if your son has begged you for money and then used the money to buy drugs, you naturally feel betrayed. You are called to forgive your son, but godly wisdom would tell you not to give him any more money, regardless of his "dire circumstances". That doesn't mean you haven't forgiven him. You can forgive him but you have learned, and now have the wisdom and discernment, to say, "No".
- Have you ever been hurt by a fellow church member or a pastor? How hard has that been to forgive? Maybe you had a higher expectation because they are from your church or are a "man (or woman) of God". But it comes down to being hurt by someone you really trusted. I have had this happen too many times and it's very heartbreaking. Has it affected your ability to participate in church, or in attending church, or finding a church? We are called to forgive but it's very hard to regain trust and this hurts us, as well as the body of Christ, who actually need our help. We don't just go to church to receive, but to participate and help others in the church. It may be your are an encourager and there are people in the church who need your encouraging words. It may be you are good with babies and the church families need you in the nursery. It may be you are a good teacher and they need a teacher for the young adult class. It may be you are a prayer warrior and there are people in the church needing your prayer covering. But if you are still at home, licking your wounds and unable to trust enough to go back to church... then satan has effectively removed you from receiving ministry and giving ministry. It took me years to get over the last betrayal at a church we had been members of for over 25 yrs. But I knew it was God's will that I forgive and that I find a new church body and be able to be a part again. So I kept praying about it. I was finally able to forgive and then I kept praying about finding a new church. We visited many and I had all but given up. Then God literally dropped one in our lap. Then it's taken several years to trust again. I'm still not where I want to be, but I'm better than I was!
- Can you think of someone who always seems to start an argument or a fight? What do you think their motivation is? Do they feed on drama? Do they like setting people up and then laughing at them? Do they like violence (I know someone who chased her son-in-law with a chainsaw!)? Do they like hurting someone? Do they use fighting in ways of revenge? Are they so competitive that everything becomes a fight to the death? Do they like wheedling and needling until someone explodes and then they play the victim and justify themselves?
- Can you think of someone who has generally been at peace with those around them? They are good at deflecting conflict. They are tactful and speak carefully so as not to start something. Their family doesn't have arrests, warrants, domestic disputes, domestic violence. They aren't at the bars fighting every Friday night. They deliberately try to avoid getting into contentious subjects in conversations. Have you learned anything from them?
- Or do you feel like they are being a doormat and letting everyone walk all over them? To be peaceable is one thing, but peace-at-any-cost is something else. There is balance and God is in the balance. Do you understand the balance? Do you feel like you live in a good balance? Do you try to live a peaceful life or do you find trouble wherever you go? Is there constant arguing in your home or are you able to have good conversation and good relationships with your family?
For all my studies on Proverbs click HERE.