[From April 1, 2010... no joke!]
"When you see the donkey of one who hates you lying under its burden, and you would hold back from setting it free, you must help to set it free."
Normally I'm not a big "rules" guy. I don't get excited about excessive rules & regulations, restrictions & laws. I'm all for the "less is more" approach, combined with the "be excellent to one another" adage. But as I read through the Mosaic laws of the Old Testament, I'm fascinated by them! Many of them are very practical and logical at the same time!
What struck me this morning was this solitary law from Exodus 23, verse 5, concerning "fallen donkeys" (a very current problem for most of us today, too! lol). The verse prior says that if you see your enemy's lost donkey, bring it back! Period. Verse 5 takes it one step further. If you see the donkey of "one who hates you" (you don't necessarily have to have a problem with them, but they've got something against you)... and it has collapsed under a heavy burden, SET IT FREE. The law recognizes our first response is to leave it alone (probably out of spite). But God says no. Go beyond your differences. Do what's right. Se the animal free.
Many have the idea that the OT is full of anger, violence, and retribution... while the NT is full of grace. I, however, find many elements of grace in the OT... including this example of "donkey grace!" And from the beginning... the Bible reminds us that God calls us to a lifestyle of grace for others. Wow. May I live into that expectation!