Is ‘DOING GOOD’ for others a pattern of our LIFESTYLE? "You shall not see your brother's ox or his sheep going astray, and hide yourself from them; you shall certainly bring them back to your brother. You shall do the same with his donkey, and so shall you do with his garment; with any lost thing of your brother's, which he has lost and you have found, you shall do likewise; you must not hide yourself. You shall not see your brother's donkey or his ox fall down along the road, and hide yourself from them; you shall surely help him lift them up again." (Deut 22:1, 3-4)
When Moses was listing the miscellaneous laws for the Israelites to obey, he spoke about their lifestyle itself to be a ‘pattern of good works’. The Israelites had not claimed the special merits from God through something that they had done in the past, but they had received all the multiplied blessings including their ‘Promised Land’ from God as a result of the obedience and faith of their great grandfather Abraham. In fact, they were slaves in Egypt not too long ago (24:22), but God had delivered them through great signs, wonders and miracles!
Now, the Israelites were expected to show the same mercy and grace in their daily living, and display random acts of kindness to others when they were neither expecting nor deserving it. This passage expands upon Leviticus 19:18, describing the command to “love your neighbor.” An Israelite was not allowed to act indifferently toward anything lost by his/her neighbor!
Every individual in the Israelite community bore the responsibility to uphold justice within that community, and these instructions addressed the natural human tendency not to get involved in other people’s affairs. No one should pretend not to have seen lost animals or goods of others for that is a form of theft or, at least a lack of brotherly love.
The rightful ownership of private property (Exodus 23:4) is emphasized in this passage, and any accidental loss of private property should be prevented (Exodus 23:5). Let us note that God honors private ownership and demands honesty from us in handling other people’s goods, even when it is not convenient for us. We are stewards of all that God gives us, and we must be faithful even to bear the burdens of others. "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." (Gal 6:2)
Let us ‘do good’ to others especially when they are not expecting it, and make it a pattern of our lifestyle as well, for this is well pleasing to God. "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so." (Prov 3:27) Let us remember what God has done for us, and let “mercy triumph over judgment” (James 2:13b) in actions as well.