People Matter More

One of the most common tendencies among people is to put great value on things. Things can be essential; our daily existence depends on having enough food, clothing, shelter, money, etc. But when we allow things to become more important than people, we’ve made a serious mistake.
Early in Israel’s history, God attempted to teach this lesson to his people. Consider this passage from Deuteronomy 24:10-13: “When you lend your brother anything, you shall not go into his house to get his pledge. You shall stand outside, and the man to whom you lend shall bring the pledge out to you. And if the man is poor, you shall not keep his pledge overnight. You shall in any case return the pledge to him again when the sun goes down, that he may sleep in his own garment and bless you; and it shall be righteousness to you before the Lord your God” (NKJV).
Those who are forced to borrow from others are at their mercy. Lenders stereotypically show little, if any, mercy. God, however, required his people to show mercy and consideration to those who were poor. In the passage above, God warned the lender against entering the home of the borrower for the purpose of taking a pledge (collateral). That would send the message that the lender was now in control of the other’s life, and God forbade such an attitude. Also, the lender was not to keep the borrower’s garment overnight. Sometimes the collateral given on a loan was the cloak in which the poor man slept. Without it, he would be cold and sleepless through the night. It was another way of stressing that people are more important than things.
We sometimes forget this lesson. We allow things to eclipse long-time friendships and relationships. Families feud over estates following the death of a loved one — things have become more important than people. Friends envy one another’s success and prosperity, and gossip breaks the friendship — things have become more important than people. In so many ways, we forget what God has tried to teach us.
You’ve heard Paul’s words of warning; hear them again: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10). The love of money, the love of things — Satan has found a vulnerable spot in many hearts.
One other observation from our text in Deuteronomy 24: Why is it so necessary that we learn this lesson about people vs. things? “. . . and it shall be righteousness to you before the Lord your God.” Do we want to be righteous? “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Righteousness comes first; God will see to it that needed things will follow.

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Tim Hall

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