God’s Precious and Holy Souls

Yael Eckstein  |  April 18, 2023

Yael Eckstein sitting bedside next to a sick elderly Jewish woman.

If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not treat it like a business deal; charge no interest. — Exodus 22:25

Compassion is one of Judaism’s highest values and this caring concern and empathy for our fellow human beings is considered one of the three distinguishing marks of being Jewish. Enjoy these 11 devotions on this very important concept for Christians and Jews.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “The Lord must have loved poor people because He made so many of them.” I’d love to say this isn’t true anymore since Abraham Lincoln’s day, but unfortunately this is not the case. I can tell you firsthand, based on what I see every day with the important work of The Fellowship, that there are still many more needy people than there ought to be.

Despite the wittiness of Abraham Lincoln’s statement, the truth is that we see throughout the Bible that God has special compassion for the needy. For example, speaking of the needy, God Himself declares, “When they cry out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate” (Exodus 22:27).

Two verses before this, when introducing the commandment to lend freely to the needy, the Bible states: “If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not treat it like a business deal; charge no interest.”

God’s Precious and Holy Souls

There are many commandments in the Torah that instruct us in our behavior toward other people. Usually, the Bible refers to the other person as “your brother” or “your neighbor.” For example, in Leviticus 19:18, we are commanded to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Only in this verse, when referring to the poor and needy, does God call them “my people.” The Jewish sages seized on this phrase and taught us that we must all recognize God’s special attention to the needy. The sages explain that it is through our treatment of the needy among us that God judges our devotion to Him. That’s why He calls them “my people.”

While in many societies, those living in the lowest social strata are ignored or despised, the Bible repeatedly commands us to take care of those in need with dignity and respect. We are commanded to see them as no less valuable than ourselves, and perhaps even more so.

So next time someone asks you for help, or you spot someone in need, remember they represent God’s precious and holy souls. God calls them “my people.” If they are His people, surely, they should be “our people” as well, and we should treat them with dignity, respect, compassion, and love.

Your Turn:

The Fellowship has a heart for God’s people, and our goal is to serve them as precious souls. Our With Dignity and Fellowship ministry strives to do just that. Find out how you can participate today!