Focal Passage: Deuteronomy 15:7-11; 24:10-15, 17-18
In the community where I pastor is one of the most active Ruritan clubs in the area. They are constantly doing for others. For example, prior to Christmas they put together about 150 Christmas baskets that they deliver to the county nursing home and to the many whom are homebound and lonely. It makes me proud because many of these Ruritans are members of my own congregation. Caring for the poor, destitute, and otherwise needy in our communities is a biblical mandate. Furthermore, for those of us who are so fortunate to have the resources to give, giving should be deemed a joyful opportunity and a gracious blessing.
God commanded Moses and the Hebrews to have a compassionate and generous heart when it came to giving. There was the recognition that economic inequality would always exist.
There was also the recognition that there would always be folks who would be poor, and that people would fall on “hard times,” whether it be caused by personal neglect or circumstances beyond one’s control. God’s message was not to punish the poor and destitute, but to give practical remedies that His people could apply.
Here are three: (1) If a poor man is working for you, pay him at the end of each work day. He has no savings account to fall back on (24:15). (2) If a poor man gives you his most comfortable garment to you as collateral for a debt incurred, don’t personally benefit by sleeping in it on a cold night. Give it back to him before sunset so that he can stay warm (24:12-13). (3) Every seventh year cancel the debts of those who owe you (15:1). This would give opportunity for folks to start over in life, to “hopefully” learn the lesson to not get in debt again, and to treat others with dignity and respect. In the course of human history there have been few societies that have actually practiced what God has preached.
As God said to Moses and His people, “Open your hand. Give. Don’t have a stingy heart.”