So I am working on a Bible study to teach later this fall and I found myself in a passage in Leviticus. I confess that not too many times am I digging in to verses in that particular book of Scripture! But, here I was, in the 23rd chapter of the third book of the Bible. Reading all about the feasts that God commanded us to commemorate. (BTW, how cool is it that we serve a God who invites us to know Him better by having parties? Way cool indeed!)
Anyhow, in the midst of these feasts is a verse that just jumped out. It almost seems as though God is adding an afterthought to the instructions to His servant Moses. (Except that He doesn't have "afterthoughts" - He is I AM. Everything He says and does is intentional. But we'll save that for another post)
Here's the verse, Leviticus 23:22 -
“And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.”
The instruction is clear. He told His people not to get every last scrap of food from their fields but rather to leave some for the hungry folks that would happen upon their land and not have other sources for food. I can almost hear God answering the question in their hearts... Of course that harvest belongs to you. You planted it, your nurtured it, and now it's time to gather it in. It's yours. No question. But don't take it all for yourself. There are gonna be some folks that don't have any of their own - for whatever reason - and I want you to be certain you've left some for them.
Yes the instruction is clear.
What about the application?
Do not max out your resources.
This verse isn't even asking us to sacrifice. Just to not max out on all that is available. But to leave a little margin for somebody that might need some of what we have.
The "poor and sojourner" folks He's gonna send our way.
Their needs might be financial or physical or emotion. alBut whatever the needs, we can live so that we have enough to share... if we haven't gathered all our harvest for ourselves.
Not gathering all the harvest for ourselves might look like a lot of different things. Like not buying all the house the bank says you can afford. So that you're not stressed or strapped and unable to give or serve or help.
It could look like taking care of our need for rest on a consistent basis so that we can be ready for the unexpected demands of a sick child or a friend in labor or a sister in crisis.
It might mean not scheduling your kids for all those activities "that they really love". I know a wise Mama who restricts her children's involvement zealously just so they can have some unstructured time and so she can be the house where folks can just drop in to visit.
It might look like the college kid I stumbled upon who keeps a stash of cash on hand to give to the homeless he encounters on the way to class. We all know college kids are poor and yet here's this kid who makes sure he doesn't spend all he has on himself (And just in case you're wondering, I discovered this by accident - he would rather his right hand not know what his left hand does....)
It might even look like my friend whose kids and grown and gone but who decided not to return to the career she put on hold to raise her kids....just so she can be available to care for aging parents, serve at the crisis pregnancy center, or transport a friend to cancer treatments. When people ask what she does with her time, she simply says "I am available".
All these resources that we (rightly) see as ours. What would happen if we purposed not to gather them all in for our own use but made sure we had enough leftover to share with the poor and sojourners that God sends our way? Sanctified margin. Hmmmmm...
One last thing. That last line. God is speaking and He says I am the Lord your God.
Maybe He's reminding us WHOSE we are, and WHO gave us all those resources to begin with and with WHOM all authority rests. HE has the right to direct us to have margin in our lives. And to use that margin to bless others.
And guess what. We get blessed in the process. How like our great and generous God!!
I shared this nugget with some friends and one of them had the coolest insight about this Truth. I can't wait to tell you about it next week....
Ya never know what you're gonna stumble on in Leviticus.