How do you define need?

Proverbs 14:21 21 It is a sin to despise one’s neighbor, but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy.

I think we can all understand the first part of this sentence even if we have a tough time avoiding the sin sometimes.  Robert Frost said “good fences make good neighbors.”  Today we might say “good lot boundaries make good neighbors.”  (Always mow one extra pass farther over than you think your lot goes)  Then again what do you do when his loud-mouth 16 year-old comes home with his hip-hop music blaring at three in the morning?  Or he makes a point of always washing, waxing and polishing his Mercedes right in front of you on Saturdays?  I mean, the nerve!  But we have to keep thinking, ‘avoid the sin, avoid the sin, avoid the sin’.  The second part seems pretty easy.

At least occasionally, usually around the holidays, we’re all kind to the poor, the downtrodden, the indigent, the poverty-stricken, the destitute and the penniless.  We chip into food drives and toy drives and other good causes but unfortunately the verse doesn’t use any of the adjectives I use above.  Nope.  The verse says needy and I’ll bet you know someone who is needy.

There’s someone in your group, someone in your class, someone at your work who is insecure, who is co-dependent, who is soooo clingy you just can’t shake them loose if they get within 50 feet of you.  Their emotional needs far surpass what you think they should require.  Their need to share goes beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone.  Their needs make you squirm.  You hate to say no to them but you feel you have to because you’re just not capable enough, you just can’t handle it.  Maybe you’re just not kind enough.

The thing about “need” or the state of being needy is it’s all subjective.  If you’re a person who, by your nature, needs the comfort, the connection and the support of others, your definition of “needy” is quite different than someone who gets along well without comfort, connection or support.  So, are we supposed to be the ones who determine the validity of need?  Or is the proverb saying we are blessed if we’re kind to whomever is in need and in any way?

I think you know the answer to that one.  Not easy, but clear.