Pursuing Justice

For Thursday, September 7, 2006
Proverbs 3:27

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to do it.

The phrase, "those to whom it is due" is literally "those to whom it belongs," but the translation here communicates the proper sense of things.

Within biblical patterns, "ownership" is not so much a matter of holding the deed or claiming a right as it is the free communication of goods as an overflow of divine charity. Thus barring the poor from gleaning in one's field would have been as much as violation of the eighth commandment as stealing a neighbor's donkey.

As the Geneva notes on this proverb, "withhholding" from others here means "not only from them to whom the possession belongs but also you shall not keep it from them who have need of the use of it."

In what ways, then, do we hold good from others? Are we stingy with encouragement or expressions of concern and sympathy? Do we hold back from giving of our time or financial resources when we know we could help? Do we get caught up in our work or hobbies or other interests in a way that causes us to neglect more pressing or important concerns?

If he who was rich became poor for our sakes when it was not at all our due, how much more should we freely give to when face with the obligations of right or of charity.