What You Owe Your Neighbor: A Stewardship Devotion

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.
(Proverbs 3:27)

The word good here refers to tangible material goods. Do you have an elderly acquaintance who can’t afford to clean her house, or neighbors who cant afford college for their kids? If you have more worldly goods, it is your responsibility to share. Why? The phrase to whom it is due translates a single Hebrew word that means, simply, the “owners.” The needy, then, have some claim on your assets.

The world is God’s, and if he has given you more of it to steward than someone else, that does not mean it belongs wholly to you. Like any steward, you must use the true
owner’s wealth as he wishes it to be used. God loves everything he has made (Psalm 145:9) and especially those who “fall and…are bowed down” (Psalm 145:14).

To quote Basil the Great (AD 329-79), “The bread which you keep belongs to the hungry; the coats in your closet, to the-naked; those shoes…to the shoeless; the gold you have hidden…to the needy. Therefore, as often as you were able to help others, and refused, so often did you do them wrong.” What possessions of yours belong to others? How will you get them to those people?

Prayer: Father, my culture tells me that my money is all mine. But this day’s reflection shows me that is wrong. Drill this truth down into my heart so I can walk in the way of your Son, who scattered his wealth to others with both hands. Amen.


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This is the December 3 devotional from God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Book of Proverbs, a yearlong daily devotional based on the Book of Proverbs, written by pastor and New York Times bestselling author Timothy Keller and his wife Kathy Keller.

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