27“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. 28Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Come back later; I’ll give it tomorrow’—when you now have it with you.”
Proverbs 3:27-28 is a very sweeping, broad stroke scripture. It offers quite a bit of instruction. First of all, it says in verse 27 we must not withhold good from our neighbors. The word good here does not mean just being nice in general. The emphasis is on providing tangible goods or material goods for our neighbor. It means that whatever our neighbor needs to flourish socially and economically, we must be postured towards our neighbor to help provide their good. This is especially true in times like these.
As an example: If you have an elderly neighbor and he or she can’t get to the store because they’re having health problems, and you have the power to come along side and relieve that need, than, by definition, you have more of those goods than they do. You therefore have a neighborly responsibility to come along side and place some of their burden on yourself.
The Proverbs writer is reminding us that our responsibility is not just simply to be nice, but to literally weave our lives in with our neighbors’ lives. Once we understand true shalom (God’s peace), we will see that doing good for them carries this kind of everyday neighborly concern.
Therefore our life must not just be a mere thread next to the other threads of life, but when we see other people falling out of the social fabric of community, people who don’t have the goods, it’s our responsibility to see our lives intertwined with theirs. We must be that committed to being neighborly with our neighbors in order to do them good! Let us recommit to that deeper good as we go through this season together.
Prayer: Lord, through the shed blood of your Son, you have knit us together as one body. Grant us grace to love all our neighbors as you have loved us. That we would do them good and work to meet their needs. Amen.
Dr. Dave Lescalleet serves as the Director Chaplaincy for PruittHealth.