Proverbs are not just spiritual wisdom for the individual. The nature of the wisdom of the Bible in that book and else where is always reflecting on the role of the person within the community. The proverb we’re looking at today is nested within proverbs talking about taking care of strangers and foreigners, refraining from boasting to others about yourself and being a good friend and spouse.

Do not forsake your friend or a friend of your family,
and do not go to your relative’s house when disaster strikes you—
better a neighbor nearby than a relative far away.

Proverbs 27:10

Here we see something worthwhile which reflects the nature of community in this era. Money as we know it didn’t exist and barter, historians and anthropologists tell us, didn’t exist in a pure form at any point in history. So in that time, what did you have? “I owe you one.” Or to be more specific, people gave credit to their neighbors or simply gave of their abundance. We can see this now. Someone had a baby? Pull the crib out of the back of the garage. Someone’s lawnmower broke? Go around with the spare one that was in the shed. Someone’s hungry? There are more tomatoes and zucchini than a person could ever want in the garden.

So when you need help, the Bible says, give your neighbors a chance to be neighborly. They know how much you do for them and they know what it means to be a part of a community. Building community means more than just securing the individuals within, it also means strengthening the bonds between them! Let people do good, it helps them to be good!

Ethan Kirl