Summary: How would our neighborhoods look if the poor were helped and businesses operated in strict honesty? Let's look at the spirit of Old Testament neighborhood laws.

How would our neighborhoods look if the poor were helped and businesses operated in strict honesty?

Community responsibility to the poor is emphasized in both testaments. The popular political notion of being hard hearted towards them is not an option and generosity is commanded.

If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need. Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: “The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near,” so that you do not show ill will toward the needy among your fellow Israelites and give them nothing. They may then appeal to the Lord against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land. (Deuteronomy 15:7-11 NIV)

Jesus did not say IF you give to the poor, but WHEN. It was assumed that the righteous will want to give to the poor.

When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. (Matthew 6:2-3 NLT)

Notice that Jesus says WHEN not IF we give to the poor. A true Christian is also not interested in snobbery, but includes the poor and needy in his social circle.

But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. (Luke 14:13 NKJV)

In business it is important to be honest. Those who are not, are well known in town, and they lose a lot of business because they are not trusted. Some try to counteract their bad reputation by gimmickry and a very expensive advertising budget. Honest businesses do not need to spend nearly as much on advertising. Their good reputation precedes them.

Your scales and weights must be accurate. Your containers for measuring dry materials or liquids must be accurate. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt. (Leviticus 19:36 NLT)

Dishonest weights and measures are well known in the business world. There are many ways we are scammed in a world that does business dishonestly, from only telling the good side of a product while hiding its defects, to deceptive pricing, placing less profitable products on high or low shelves, doctors pushing certain drugs because they get kickbacks, paying workers only the bare legal minimum, and so on. Christians who are honest in all areas of business, are indeed a light in the community.

The perfect community does not exist, not yet, that’s coming when Jesus returns. However, we who are the advance guard of the kingdom of God on earth have the opportunity to show the whole world a small glimpse of what that will look like, by at least making our end of the neighborhood a light in a dark world.