Bible Society of South Africa

Be good to other people - 6 September 2023

By Ben Fourie

Bible text(s)

27Whenever you possibly can, do good to those who need it. 28Never tell your neighbours to wait until tomorrow if you can help them now.

Proverbs 3:27-28GNBOpen in Bible reader

At almost every traffic light, you will find someone trying to sell a bag of fruit or a cheap plastic toy. Others just stand there and look dejected. They may even carry a piece of cardboard with a story of their poor circumstances. Some might ask for a job, but others just beg for a donation; children in rags hold out a hand.

In most instances, I just look the other way or say sorry, because I do not have anything to give. Just a few hundred metres down the road, my conscience is giving me a really bad time, because I did not take a few minutes to stop at the nearest shop to buy them something to eat. Would it have damaged my budget to buy the bag of oranges, even when I had just bought one at the supermarket? Usually, I try to salve my conscience with the thought that there are so many such people that my little bit won’t make much of a difference. Many social workers also urge us not to give money or even food to these people, as there are soup kitchens where they can go to get a meal.

What does the proverb say about this matter? The proverb seems to admonish me. I should not refrain from doing good to “those who need it”, especially when I “possibly can”. The word that we translate as “need” can mean a wide variety of things.

It is not only those who suffer material need, but also those who suffer spiritual need, death or illness, losing your job, loss of property or any other trauma. Proverbs 3:28 tells us that we should not postpone helping someone when we are able to help immediately. We are all very busy people and it is so easy to decide that I will go back tomorrow with a food parcel, or I will visit my friend who is suffering from cancer next week. Next week might be too late for the man at the traffic light or my sick friend.

God is never too busy or parsimonious with either his time or blessings when we need him.

Prayer: Lord, please help me to see when there is a real need and make me someone who will not postpone helping others, when I am in a position to help. Amen

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