Today we read God’s direction to Israel relating to harvest. God said when they harvest, they should leave some for the poor and the foreigner. We don’t need all the fruits of our labour to live well – we could all spare some, couldn’t we? Turns out more than we think!
9 “‘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. 10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.
15 “‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.
Leviticus 19:9-10, 15
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Matthew 25:34-36, 40
You know how I know?
Pastor Brent tells the story of being on a mission trip to a third world country (take your pick – this truly could have happened anywhere in the world), and a dirt-poor family giving them a bag of oranges as a gift. Those oranges would have been worth a literal fortune to the family, and would have provided much-needed nourishment. Shared with the first-worlders.
Kind of makes you feel awkward when it’s you receiving the oranges because you aren’t sure you would have done the same thing. And we should. The generosity of the poor should teach (not shame) the wealthy. Shame wouldn’t accomplish what we need to accomplish, which is a change in behaviour.
We need to become generous – not guilty.
Leave some for the poor. In everything. My Lucy regularly passes stuff out the car window to the beggars at the traffic lights. In fact, she drives ready. Whether it is an extra sandwich made with the lunches or an extra juice jug bought with the groceries. And guess what? We aren’t feeling it. We aren’t growing hungry. In helping others not be hungry we are not becoming hungry…
Actually, let’s be honest about – we probably throw away more food each month than the average beggar eats in a month. Think about that. Some estimate that 40% of fruits and veg are tossed because of spoilage in the average North American home. We wouldn’t feel the edges of our fields if we don’t feel the throwaways now…
That’s not to say we shouldn’t do more. We ought to be intentional about giving specifically and strategically to help people and organizations doing good work and God’s work. Yet for today, I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the edges of your field today. And each of us could give a little, leave a little, and spend a little more to give a burger to the homeless or a meal to the neighbour.
God is clear that there is nothing against wealth. Don’t play favourites with the poor or the great, he says. This isn’t about squashing the millionaires and billionaires. It’s not about being self-righteous and declaring that if they had the work ethic you had they might not have a hand out. It’s not about politics and fairness and deserving. It’s about God being God. I am the Lord your God.
And furthermore, in the case of leaving some harvest on the edges of your field, it’s about serving Jesus very directly and personally. Jesus declares that the person you are considering helping, whether you do it or not, is him. It’s Jesus. He is the least of these.
We’ve been served. What are you doing with the edges of your field, and will you leave them for Jesus? Think about driving ready…