God’s instruction regarding the poor is to be openhanded with them. Give generously to the poor without a grudging heart. This is when we ought to realize how gracious and generous God has been with each of us and ask, why not share such grace to others?
7 If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. 8 Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need. 9 Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: “The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near,” so that you do not show ill will toward the needy among your fellow Israelites and give them nothing. They may then appeal to the Lord against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. 10 Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. 11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.
In Moses’ time, God instructed Israel to cancel all debts every 7 years. Whatever was left owing then was wiped clean. Some were using that law as a personal justification for being hardhearted toward the poor among them.
God’s instruction regarding the poor (echoed by Jesus in action and teaching in his life) is to be openhanded with them. Give generously to the poor without a grudging heart. This isn’t a new idea for us. Of course we ought to have this heart toward the poor.
Were we not poor spiritually, coming to God to ask for his generosity toward us through Jesus? And did he withhold any of his mercy and grace toward us? As God was gracious toward us, we should be gracious toward the poor.
The reality is (verse 11) that there will always be poor people in the land. We don’t like this. We don’t want there to always be poor people. We want to alleviate all poverty. We do the math and calculate that there is enough well globally to care for all people. Yet there are always the poor.
This is likely a reflection on all of us. Collectively and individually our choices and systems and models are broken as we are broken… We can wear that equally, and we can respond as God intends.
Openhandedly. Generously. Graciously.