Many people who have read the following verses think that God only wants us to be kind to other human beings, but they are wrong; for to not also be kind to animals would limit our love and compassion, and thereby harden our hearts and souls to some degree.
1 "You shall not see your countryman's ox or his sheep straying away, and pay no attention to them; you shall certainly bring them back to your countryman.
2 And if your countryman is not near you, or if you do not know him, then you shall bring it home to your house, and it shall remain with you until your countryman looks for it; then you shall restore it to him.
3 And thus you shall do with his donkey, and you shall do the same with his garment, and you shall do likewise with anything lost by your countryman, which he has lost and you have found. You are not allowed to neglect them.
4 You shall not see your countryman's donkey or his ox fallen down on the way, and pay no attention to them; you shall certainly help him to raise them up.
We believe that the main reason that many people don’t think that these verses refer to being kind to animals is because this passage seems to consider animals only as human property, and not as living beings in their own right.
Legally and culturally these animals may be human property, but they are also living beings with emotional and physical feelings very much like ours. We know this because God created both humans and animals as living souls (Hebrew: neh-fesh khah-yaw), as we are told in Genesis 1 and 2.
In Deuteronomy 6:5, we are told:
5 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
This means that we are to love God with every part of our being and everything that we have; and we cannot do this unless we also love the whole of God’s creation, which includes the animals.
To harm or destroy any part of God’s creation would make God feel sad and upset, much in the same way we would feel if someone broke into our home, harmed our companion animals, broke some things, and stole our treasured belongings.
Remember, God created us with the same feeling that He had when He created the first human being in His image (Genesis 1:26). So, if we would feel upset and sad, then so would God.
Let’s also look at this from the standpoint of our relationship with other human beings, even the ones we don’t particularly like, as we are told in Leviticus 19:17-18.
17 'You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him.
18 'You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.
If we truly love our neighbors as verse 18 is telling us, then we must empathize with their feelings by putting ourselves in their place.
Therefore, even if some people don’t really care about an animal or a human being, according to God’s word and our own spiritual well being, we must love them and protect them so that no harm befalls them.
This world would surely be a whole lot better place to live in, if we truly loved God and the whole of His creation without any limits or hesitations.
There would be no harm befalling any other human being, or animal, or the environment we all live in, for we would just naturally love and care for one another whether they be human or animal.