January 17, 2011
When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I Am the Lord your God.
Leviticus 19: 9-10 NIV
I had the absolute pleasure of preaching these verses, not only to my class in Lawndale, but to a panel of Chicago School District Teachers. It is my prayer that you understand as they did what it is God has placed on my heart. Therefore, before I begin, I will say a prayer.
Lord God, I do know how hard this day and even this year is going to be, for You, Lord, have placed deep in my heart the desire to bring the plight of the poor to the heart of Your people. In doing this Lord, I want to use every word, every direction You have already given to me and apply it aptly to this generation. I ask, Father, that You correct me should I speak wrong, and I pray that You open the hearts of those who are closed. This is what I ask in the Name of Jesus. Amen.
Last week we learned about God’s 7-year plan. In 6 years He wanted His children to plant fruits, vegetables, grapes for drink and oil. This would cover all of their needs and carry over to cover their needs for the 7th year. In the 7th year they would rest, stop working the field and leave it for the poor. The poor were to come into the field and take from it the produce that grows. In this process it would require some work and that work would benefit not only them but also the owner of the land. Not only does the owner get a full one-year vacation, but he gets free labor in clearing his field. That does not happen; instead, the owner of the field decides not to rest and not to share, and as a result the number of the poor increases.
God does have another solution for the poor and that is found in today’s verses. God asks that the farmer harvest his land but he shouldn’t go to the very edges of the field and shouldn’t pick up what gets dropped or passed over. In this way the poor person could walk behind you, pick up what drops and go to the outer edges and pick the crops. Again, the poor person is getting fed but they are also working for the food. You can argue that they didn’t plant the seeds to grow this garden and that would be true. However, it is God who gives the blessing to the fields and sends the rain needed to grow the plants. Since it is God who is insuring a good harvest, then it is up to God to instruct how that harvest should be shared.
As wonderful as it sounds, none of us have jobs where we can work 6 years and then take off 1 year to rest. None of us reading this devotional is a farmer; well, none that I know of are farmers. Therefore, I will go with the premise that all of us work ordinary jobs and get our food from the grocery store. With that in mind I can show you just how you can do as God commands in today’s passages.
Each one of us love to get great deals when we grocery shop. Most of us have grocery saving cards for our favorite stores. With just a swipe of that card, we get a discount on certain items. Some of us love to get the weekly specials and plan our menus accordingly. Others cut out coupons and use them wisely on sale items, double coupon days and when they offer to buy one and get one free. I get thrilled each time I am handed a receipt and see the total of the savings. Now with those savings and with those deals I have two ways in which I can honor God and follow this command. I can take some of the items and donate them to the food pantry, or I can take the amount that I just saved and donate to a soup kitchen or other charitable organization. In this way I am allowing the poor to walk behind me and gather that which is dropped. I am not asking the people who just get by and barely have enough to feed their own family to do this. I am asking those of us who can to do this. God calls for the farmers who are gathering a good harvest to assist the poor. I am doing the same.
Now those of you who can do this may balk and think “why is it always up to us to help the poor?” The answer would be, “God provided for you so that you can provide for the poor.” Your harvest, your job, your good fortune is from God. In one second your good fortune can be gone. A strong wind, a bad storm, a freak accident, a devastating illness, a loss of employment, or a family dispute–all of these can and will steal your good fortune in a second. Oh, but for the grace of God go thee and it is good to bear that in mind. Therefore, child of God, do not complain that you do have to give to the poor. Instead, praise God that you can give to the poor.
Thank You, God, for providing for me this day. Help me to share with the poor all you allow me to have in this life. This I pray in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
In His love,