Proverbs 14:21

He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he.

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The way you relate to others affects three parties – the God of heaven, those around you, and your own life. If you are cruel, harsh, selfish, or violent toward others, you sin against God, you hurt those needing help, and you will be miserable yourself. If you are gentle, kind, giving, and protective toward others, you honor the God of heaven, put joy in the hearts of others, and find happiness yourself. This is the rule of the proverb.

The first commandment is to love the Creator God of the Bible – Jehovah – with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength (Deut 6:4-5; Matt 22:36-38). The second commandment is to love your neighbor as much as you love yourself (Lev 19:18; Matt 22:39). When you love your neighbor, you also love God, because He created your neighbor and brought him across your path when he needed your assistance (Pr 14:31; 19:17; I John 4:20).

God will bless you, if you are careful, forgiving, honest, loving, and patient toward your neighbors (Ps 41:1-3; 112:9; Luke 6:27-38). God will judge and punish you, if you are hurtful, malicious, overbearing, strict, or vindictive to them (Deut 15:7-11; Is 58:7-11). Christianity creates the highest motivation to love those you meet, because the difference between a happy and blessed life and a miserable and troubled life is the certain result.

In a covetous, greedy, and selfish world, it is hard to believe or imagine that loving others can bring you happiness. But that is what the proverb teaches! And both Jesus Christ and Paul confirmed this fact: “I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Believe this rule, or live and die miserably.

When a lawyer asked Jesus the definition of a neighbor (lawyers often nitpick about definitions to avoid responsibility), the Lord answered with the story of the Good Samaritan, where a Samaritan befriended and helped a wounded Jew at great inconvenience and expense (Luke 10:25-37). Though the Jews and Samaritans despised each other, this noble man showed kindness where the Jew’s own countrymen had not.

Solomon’s main lesson here is how you view and treat poor neighbors – the ones that cannot benefit you. It is sinful human nature to despise the poor and ignore their needs – blaming them for their misfortune, which may or may not be true. The man who helps a legitimately poor neighbor will be blessed by God and man and in his own soul.

Whatever you have or are, it was given to you by God; any difference between you and others is His choice (I Cor 4:7). Therefore, it is profane spite for you to glory over others. God has made both rich and poor (Pr 22:2), and your treatment of the poor reflects your relationship with God (Pr 14:31). It is wisdom to honor God by helping the truly poor.

The happiness of helping others extends to Judgment Day, where those who befriended the least of God’s children will be greatly rewarded (Matt 25:31-46; Luke 14:12-14). You can lay up a good foundation against that Day by giving to those in need (I Tim 6:17-19).