“REMEMBER THE POOR”
O God, give me the eyes of Jesus.
Read LEVITICUS 19:1–18
19 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.
3 “‘Each of you must respect your mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the Lord your God.
4 “‘Do not turn to idols or make metal gods for yourselves. I am the Lord your God.
5 “‘When you sacrifice a fellowship offering to the Lord, sacrifice it in such a way that it will be accepted on your behalf. 6 It shall be eaten on the day you sacrifice it or on the next day; anything left over until the third day must be burned up. 7 If any of it is eaten on the third day, it is impure and will not be accepted. 8 Whoever eats it will be held responsible because they have desecrated what is holy to the Lord; they must be cut off from their people.
9 “‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.
11 “‘Do not steal.
“‘Do not lie.
“‘Do not deceive one another.
12 “‘Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.
13 “‘Do not defraud or rob your neighbor.
“‘Do not hold back the wages of a hired worker overnight.
14 “‘Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the Lord.
15 “‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.
16 “‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people.
“‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord.
17 “‘Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt.
18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.
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.
What is your attitude to people with a begging bowl?
Most of the laws in this chapter fall under the category of moral laws—and some immediately catch the eye. These noteworthy laws have to do with care for the most vulnerable members of society: the poor and the refugee (9,10), the laborer on minimum wage (13b), those with physical disabilities (14), the female slave (20–22) and the aged (32).
It has been said that when we measure the well-being of a nation, we normally check its financial and economic indicators, but for the Creator of the universe what matters much more is the quality of life of its most vulnerable citizens. This is illustrated by God’s verdict on Israel during the time of Amos. Evidently, the economy was booming and, as is often the case, the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. This state of affairs was in direct opposition to the laws in Leviticus 19: the people were skimping on the measure, boosting the price, and cheating with dishonest scales, buying the poor with silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, selling the sweepings with the wheat.
How do we measure up in our nation? What is our role as people who seek to honor the Lord in the way we live? “The poor you will always have with you,” Jesus famously asserted (Matt. 26:11)—and in our days we have the poor in plenty. Our daily news indicates that poverty keeps on expanding, especially as wars and other natural or man-made disasters devastate communities in near or distant lands. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the scale of the problem, but where there’s a will there’s a way. Each of us can do our own little bit—and even this does make a real difference in the end.
Some choose to buy fair-trade goods as one way of making a difference. Can you think of other ways?
Lord, help us to always remember the less-fortunate around us as we act responsibly with the money with which You have entrusted us.
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