Friday, December 15, 2017

Care in the Use of Property

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Care in the Use of Property

We must use our property with a view to our neighbor’s well-being.

Exodus 21:33, 34

“When a man opens a pit, or when a man digs a pit and does not cover it, and an ox or a donkey falls into it, the owner of the pit shall make restoration. He shall give money to its owner, and the dead beast shall be his.”

Exodus 21:35, 36

“When one man’s ox butts another’s, so that it dies, then they shall sell the live ox and share its price, and the dead beast also they shall share. Or if it is known that the ox has been accustomed to gore in the past, and its owner has not kept it in, he shall repay ox for ox, and the dead beast shall be his.”

These two statutes show that we must take care in the use of our own property in such a way that we do not jeopardize the well-being of our neighbors by our own poor stewardship. Open pits had to be covered and dangerous animals had to be controlled.

It’s not hard to see how many laws in our own society—think of a construction site, for example, or laws about pets and fences around swimming pools—derive from such statutes as this. The statutes in this section represent a form of preventive justice in which, by proper forethought and consideration of our neighbors, we take actions with our own property to ensure that others are not harmed by what we do. They also present examples of restorative justice, in which property is returned to its rightful owner without contest.

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In the Gates is a devotional series on the Law of God by Rev. T. M. Moore, editor of the Worldview Church. He serves as dean of the Centurions Program of the Wilberforce Forum and principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He is the author or editor of twenty books, and has contributed chapters to four others. His essays, reviews, articles, papers, and poetry have appeared in dozens of national and international journals, and on a wide range of websites. His most recent books are The Ailbe Psalter and The Ground for Christian Ethics (Waxed Tablet).

Scripture quotations in this article are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, (c) copyright 2001, 2007 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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