Saturday, April 12, 2008

Verse of the week – Leviticus 19:9, 10



This year I am working on reading through the Bible once again, and have not gotten off to the most rapid pace, so it may take me more like 18 months instead of 12, we’ll see. I just wrapped up Leviticus this week, and one unusual passage keeps coming to mind. I want to continue to focus on these verses this coming week and think of ways to apply them to my life and lifestyle.

In the midst of the law, God says, “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the LORD your God.” – Leviticus 19:9-10

The Matthew Henry commentary says the following about this passage: Works of piety must be always attended with works of charity, according to our ability. We must not be covetous, griping, and greedy of every thing we can lay claim to, nor insist upon our right in all things.

Clearly, if something grows in a farmer’s field it belongs to him, just as every penny of our paycheck belongs to us (well, after Uncle Sam has his say in this day and age.) We could, justly so, insist upon our rights, lay claim to each of those pennies to spend as we see fit. However, God challenges us on this point. And, in this context His challenge is not about our tithes and offerings, but rather the poor among us.

Deuteronomy 24:20-22 gives another explanation on this topic, “When you beat your olive tree, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not go over it again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing.” Remember those days you were worse off than you are today? For that reason (because others are seeing their worst days right now), leave some behind. Don’t pinch every penny out of your paycheck for your own gain. I love the visual imagery of rechecking the olive boughs to make sure you got every last one. Work hard, take what you need (not the same as what you may deserve, or think you deserve), and leave a bit behind for someone else.

What does that look like today? That gets a little trickier. I don’t farm. Even if I did, I don’t know that people would assume they could go gleaning through my field after I finished harvesting. In today’s culture we need to practice more intentionality about ‘leaving some behind’ for those who may have need of it.

Here are some ideas I have come up with so far (please feel free to add to this list, hopefully I will as well later this week):

Freecycle items rather than garage sale them.

Send clothing to the crisis pregnancy center while they still have life (and style) in them

Skip a dinner out and give that money to someone in need (rather than your housing project or your child’s college fund . . .)

"Glean" through your dressers and closets. Get rid of what you don’t like and maybe something that you do like. Pass them on to a mission or clothing closet that helps those without.

That which grew in the corners and remained on the plants after once through the fields still equaled income to those living off the land. I am sure they could have thought of uses for that money (build an addition, a more comfortable sleeping mat, new pots, more land, children’s inheritance, etc.) God didn’t tell them to give just what they didn’t need, He challenges us to give even from what can be useful to us.

How could I give more this week?


"When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the LORD your God"

Leviticus 19:9, 10

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