I find it easy to help neighbors. I see them far more than I do my blood family. Our children interact and grow together, regardless of age, and there are things that clearly bind us together (the land we share, headaches with other neighbors, and the desire to live and enjoy life). With the passing of time, I find myself looking and reacting to each of them as an extended part of my family.
Given this, I cannot imagine not helping one of them in need. A kid in need, a tire going flat, desperate for air, or lending a hand to move something out into the garden; automatic reasons to talk and help.
In contrast, walking by the poor is easy. I like to blame my early days in India for the conditioning, but I think there is more to it than that. I often wonder aloud if my inability to do something reflected an inner longing or belief that somehow I was superior. Last night, as I walk by one more homeless person in a London tube station, I listened as the station manager pleaded with people not to give money to those begging. It was at that moment that I understood the dilemma.
The poor are in need. What they need most is compassion. What I understand least and know even less in how to give is compassion.
“It’s criminal to ignore a neighbor in need, but compassion for the poor – what a blessing!” (Proverbs 14.21)
The judgment is easy to write and let roll of the tongue. The question for you and I is what does it mean?
I cannot always solve my neighbor’s problems. They are not asking me to either! What they are looking for when we share our challenges is my compassion. Because they are family+, compassion flows easily.
I often do not see the poor, anyone in need of anything, as family+. The good news is that God did, does, and always will. We are family. This is not my decision, it is a fact; incredible, awesome news!