Deuteronomy 22:1, 3 “You shall not see your countryman’s ox or his sheep straying away, and pay no attention to them; you shall certainly bring them back to your countryman. . . . Thus you shall do with his donkey, and you shall do the same with his garment, and you shall do likewise with anything lost by your countryman, which he has lost and you have found. You are not allowed to neglect them.”

Observation: God here establishes rules for relationship among His people. His commands are startling by their intrusiveness. No one would be permitted to live anonymously in his neighborhood, excused from next-door attentiveness by the excuse of a busy workweek. This was a clarion call for involvement in the lives of others.

Application: The passage reinforces the importance of community, of living in caring relationship with one another. If someone has a need, I am first commanded not to ignore it; even more, I am to do all I can to meet it. 

It makes me think of the tendency of people who are hurting or ashamed over some failure in their life or in the life of a loved one, to withdraw from fellowship with others. Such withdrawal is too often met with cooperation from friends who welcome any excuse to not be bothered. Usually, though, withdrawal comes at precisely the stage of life where fellowship with others could be most helpful. The support of a caring, loving network can do much to bring light to a life darkened by pain.

Prayer: Lord, show me more as to how this passage applies to me today. Make me sensitive to needs around me, and eager to help with others’ losses. Teach me to be Your hands and Your heart in reaching out to others.