By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)
Scripture Readings: Deuteronomy 23-24
Key Scripture Verses: Deuteronomy 24:19-22 (NIV, Life Application Bible)
“When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow; so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt. That is why I command you to do this.”
In this section of Deuteronomy is about laws regarding human relationships. In these verses we see that God has made provision for the poor and that those with plenty needed to leave some for those who had little.
I found it interesting that God made this a law so that the poor would be taken care of. I wonder if we saw someone out in our fields or gardens taking the leftover scraps how we might react. The law kept the Israelites from hoarding and being greedy with their abundance. Adherence to the law meant that the people would not harvest the corners or edges of their fields and if anything was dropped from harvesting it was to be left behind in order that the poor and travelers would be able to help themselves. (Commentary footnotes, NIV, Life Application Bible, re: Ruth 2:2).
This law was still in effect later when Ruth was gleaning the leftover harvests of Boaz’s fields. As you may remember, Ruth was a widow when she harvested the grain there. Widows had no other way to provide for themselves.
In the story with Ruth, Boaz went out to the fields where the overseers were to tell those gleaning from the fields, “God bless you.”
I like this concept, because it allowed the poor and the widows to do something to provide for themselves with some dignity. It was allowable for them to take the leftovers and it was expected by the landowners.
God wants us to take care of those less fortunate. As you may recall, I recently posted on “second tithes” which meant giving as much as possible above and beyond just the required 10% tithe expected of the people to give. The idea was to be generous and to give willingly as much as possible to help out those who for whatever reason were not able to get their needs met.
In Proverbs 19:17 it says, “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.”
God wants us to take care of those who are unable to provide for themselves for whatever reason. Jesus said that when we care for others, it is as if we have done something for him.
May we remember to take care of the poor and needy among us. There are a lot of people without at this time of year and throughout the year whom we could show even just a little kindness to and it would mean so much. At the end of the year, we often get appeals for money for charities. May we search our hearts and prayerfully consider offering just a little more to care for someone less fortunate than ourselves.