The Law drew a distinction between God’s people and the surrounding nations, even in matters of economic compassion. God’s expectations for interactions between Israelites are entirely different. This does not mean, however, that those outside the covenant community could be conveniently ignored—only that concern and care for those within the covenant community takes precedence. (It is the same way today within the Church.) Indeed, the Law included a radical concern for the “sojourner,” the foreigner among them, (Ex. 22:21, 23:9; Lev. 19:10, 23:22) a concern that stems directly from the heart of God: “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial . . . and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were in the land of Egypt.” (Deut. 10:17-19)
God loves the “sojourner,” and God’s people are to love him as well. That’s why, although we must be wise in how we help those in need, (cf. Prov. 6:10-11, 21:25, 24:30-34; 1 Tim. 5:8) we must avoid notions of anyone being “deserving” of our help. None of us deserve the grace of God, yet he freely gives it!
The Israelites were freed from slavery because the Lord loved them and kept the oath that he swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. When he gave them the Promised Land, it was not because of their righteousness, for they were a stubborn people. In the wilderness, they provoked him to anger, worshiping the golden calf, grumbling and complaining endlessly. If a people were ever completely undeserving of God’s mercy, it was the Israelites! Yet, God still brought them to the land he had promised. (Deut. 7:7-8; 9:6, 13-29; Ex. 32:9-10, 15 )
Is this any less true of us? How can we, if we have been saved through Christ, say to anyone, “You are not worthy of my help”? How we help may vary from situation to situation, but no one should be considered unworthy of assistance.
—adapted from Awaiting a Savior, pp. 44-45