We can take for granted the idea that any money loaned to someone should be paid back with interest; this is seen as normal. Secular culture often judges things on a purely functional basis, whereby acquiring wealth and even gaining at the expense of another is simply the way things are. In contrast, God has always judged things from a “heart perspective.” What’s the motivation behind our actions? Are we fueled by desire for our own gain, or by compassion, love, and a desire to glorify God?

God’s laws in Exodus 22 were designed to ensure that His people always acted fairly, possessing a heart attitude of compassion and justice that reflected His own. The Israelites were to display integrity, honesty, kindness, and love to one another. In charging interest to one of your own people, it was possible that you were taking advantage of someone’s financial hardship. This showed a lack of love and misrepresented the character of God.

In verse 26, note how God told His people to return a person’s cloak, even if it was taken as a pledge. It didn’t matter to Him what the business transaction was—He required His people to care about a person’s well-being at all times, including those who couldn’t defend themselves (Exodus 22:16,22).

God has put His laws in the hearts of believers in Jesus. The Holy Spirit guides us from within—helping us to understand and live out the wisdom of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17). How can we be more generous today, not only with our money, but—even more—with our time, our kindness, and our love for all people? When we give, let’s not always expect a return, but simply rejoice in God using us to build His kingdom.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: 1 Kings 18:16-46