Who Is My Neighbor? Who are the poor?

Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner,
but blessed is he who is generous to the poor.
Proverbs 14:21

This seems kind of harsh.  If you don’t like your neighbor, you are a sinner.  Despising is probably a little stronger than not liking–rather like looking down on one’s neighbor.  Doing so makes you a sinner. What if the neighbor has behaved in a way that deserves this personal judgment?  The rest of this short verse leaves me thinking that we are asking the wrong question.

The questions are not:  what if my neighbor has been bad–why does that make me a sinner?  It’s really: who is my neighbor?

The poor are not only those who lack money but who lack anything they need to live a whole life.  At any give moment, I might be “the poor” one, or you might be “the poor” one.

Blessed is the one who is generous to “the poor.”

What if our neighbor is simply the next one we encounter who is “the poor?”

Bob Patrick

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