Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers?
Deut. 22:1 ¶ You shall not watch your neighbor’s ox or sheep straying away and ignore them; you shall take them back to their owner.
Deut. 22:2 If the owner does not reside near you or you do not know who the owner is, you shall bring it to your own house, and it shall remain with you until the owner claims it; then you shall return it.
Deut. 22:3 You shall do the same with a neighbor’s donkey; you shall do the same with a neighbor’s garment; and you shall do the same with anything else that your neighbor loses and you find. You may not withhold your help.
God’s people had already been instructed to love the Lord and love their neighbor. Now, here comes an affirmation and practical example of what it means to love one’s neighbor. As God’s holy people we are called to take responsibility for the things that we find in life. Whereas the world would tell us “finders keepers, losers weepers,” God’s people are to have a completely different perspective. As a member of a community of faith we are to take responsibility for the needs of the neighbor. The wandering sheep does not simply become ours because it has wandered, no it becomes our responsibility and is under our care until it can be returned to its rightful owner. The same is true for anything else that belongs to our neighbor that we might find. We are to care for the item and return it to the rightful owner. We are to take responsibility for the things that we discover.
Sadly our laws and the responses of individuals are making it more and more difficult to take this kind of responsibility these days. However, we cannot allow that to discourage us from being the people of God. Instead we must look for opportunities to be responsible and to love our neighbor.
A few years ago my husband found a ladies’ wallet at a gas station. It had probably been placed on top of the car while filling up! He looked through it and discovered the address of the individual because her driver’s license was inside. Later that day he drove to the home and delivered the wallet to the owner. Her eyes welled up with tears at the thought that someone would not take anything from her wallet, but would instead return it all to her safely!
Should that be a surprise to us? The world teaches us, “finders keepers, losers weepers.” God teaches us that “finders protectors, losers receivers.” This is the unique perspective of those within the kingdom. Our love for God must be translated into our actions on a daily basis. We are not to respond in the way in which the world would respond but we are to go out of our way to act and react like Christ. This is our calling — to be counter cultural for we belong to a new and different culture — the kingdom of God.
Lord, may my life be different today. Amen.