“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 23:22 NKJV)
God provides for all people, even those in poverty. Those who are poor, have a different requirement for sacrifices in the Old Testament. It doesn’t take much reading to realize that the sacrifice that Mary offered at the Temple for purification after the birth of Jesus was the sacrifice designated for poor people. In Proverbs 31, part of today’s reading, we are told to plead the cause of the poor and that the godly wife finds ways to care for the poor. The verse I quoted today is an amazing picture of one way that God cares for those living in poverty. Landowners, come harvest time, were to leave a portion of their crops unharvested so that the poor and the alien in the land could find a way to feed their family. This wasn’t charity, in the modern sense of the word, as much as it was an opportunity to provide for daily needs for those living in poverty. It allowed those who might otherwise have no work at all, a chance to provide for their families while experiencing the dignity of productive work. Obviously, that’s not the only way to provide for one’s family, and wouldn’t be practical today, but we must always find ways to help those in poverty while recognizing their human dignity.
Poverty exists in our world today, but to a much larger degree than most people realize. A lot of poverty is invisible because people struggle to avoid appearing to be poor. Sometimes, that struggle exacerbates their problems. Economic poverty isn’t a sign of a poor relationship with God. It isn’t a sign that someone is evil, or dumb, or lazy. It’s not a character flaw. A character flaw would be criticizing someone because they’re poor. A character flaw would be turning a blind eye towards those in need. Want to find a way to help? Look for single parents dealing with kids and find a way to help them that doesn’t look like help. Work with some of the homeless agencies to provide meals. There are so many ways to meet needs and restore people’s dignity, if we’ll just be creative about them. We can overcome our character flaws related to how we treat people in poverty.
Lord, open my eyes to see the needs of people around me. Give me a willing heart so that I’ll find ways to meet needs and empower people who feel powerless.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.