Sunday, May 16, 2010

Aliens, Orphans, and Widows (Dt 24:19-22)

"When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 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." (Deuteronomy 24:19-22)
God has a plan for providing for the poor and indigent among us, not a plan with a system of handouts, but a calling for us to forfeit the "edges" or "excess" of our prosperity that others may glean from them. In Moses' day that meant leaving some of the harvest in the field that the poor and needy might glean the provision of God behind them. This bounty was not simply handed to the poor but was left in the field for them that they might gather according to their own industry.

What might this look like today? For a while we had our gutters cleaned by some people who were in extreme financial need. I could have cleaned it myself but the amount I paid to someone else who was in need of the work was simply the gleanings of my abundance. Maybe its paying someone who needs some money to rake and bag your leaves. Certainly you could do this but you could also spend some of the excess of your abundance to bless someone else. I'm sure there are many ways we can practice the scripture and leave the gleanings to the poor.

One final thought, Moses reminds the Israelites that they too were once poor and oppressed in a land of slavery. When blessing and abundance comes our way, we must always remember the path that God took us on to bring us there. We must remember the times that we too struggled with our finances. This remembrance should prompt us to be merciful and kind to others in need.

David Robison

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