Lord, we consider ourselves a giving people.
Read DEUTERONOMY 15:1–18
The Year for Canceling Debts
15 At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. 2 This is how it is to be done: Every creditor shall cancel any loan they have made to a fellow Israelite. They shall not require payment from anyone among their own people, because the Lord’s time for canceling debts has been proclaimed. 3 You may require payment from a foreigner, but you must cancel any debt your fellow Israelite owes you. 4 However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, 5 if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today. 6 For the Lord your God will bless you as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. You will rule over many nations but none will rule over you.
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.
12 If any of your people—Hebrew men or women—sell themselves to you and serve you six years, in the seventh year you must let them go free. 13 And when you release them, do not send them away empty-handed. 14 Supply them liberally from your flock, your threshing floor and your winepress. Give to them as the Lord your God has blessed you. 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you. That is why I give you this command today.
16 But if your servant says to you, “I do not want to leave you,” because he loves you and your family and is well off with you, 17 then take an awl and push it through his earlobe into the door, and he will become your servant for life. Do the same for your female servant.
18 Do not consider it a hardship to set your servant free, because their service to you these six years has been worth twice as much as that of a hired hand. And the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap” (Luke 6:38). Does your giving measure up?
God sets many boundaries for his people, but in the matter of giving, there are no boundaries. God’s people are to give boundlessly, reflecting the way God has blessed them (14) and will continue to bless them (4–6). They are commanded to help the needy (7,8) and every seventh year to write off debts (1,2), freeing any who have been reduced to selling themselves into slavery (12). The emphasis, however, is less on the act of giving and more on the underlying attitudes. God’s people must not be “hard-hearted” or “tight-fisted” (7) but rather “open-handed,” lending “freely” (8); not constrained by cold-blooded calculations (9), but giving ungrudgingly (10,18) and “liberally” (14). God seeks a generosity compelled by love, not laws.
No figures or formulae are spelled out. The overwhelming thrust of the passage is on unsparing, unfettered generosity, taking its cue from God himself (15). Not only has God delivered his people from slavery, but he has not suffered them to leave Egypt as empty-handed refugees. Having instructed them to ask the Egyptians for silver, gold, and clothing, “The Lord made the Egyptians favorably disposed towards the people, and they gave them what they asked for” (Exod. 12:36).
Obedience does indeed breed blessing (5,10,18), but this passage does not support or promote the prosperity theology. We don’t give in order that we may be blessed but because we are already blessed. In this light, consider Jesus’ words: “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked” (Luke 6:35). By imitating God’s generosity, we show ourselves to be true children of the Most High—the greatest blessing of all.
In the light of God’s bountiful blessings, how should Christians respond to the current refugee crisis?
Lord, grant to us the same caliber of compassion for the poor and underprivileged that You demonstrate for us every day.
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