Efficiency and productivity are buzzwords you often hear in the business world. Sharp business owners ask, “How can we do what we do better? How can I leverage my resources to maximize profits and efficiency?” This attitude has led many to unbelievable success and is understandably valued in our society.
In Leviticus 19, we read through a series of laws designed to provide Israel with practical examples of holiness in everyday life. One law commanded Israel to be inefficient in their work. At harvest time, Israelite farmers were instructed not to harvest the edges of their fields (v. 9). In a similar way, vineyard owners were not to go back over their vineyard a second time but instead to leave the remaining grapes (v. 10). In other words, Israel was called to not make the most out of their productive land. Why? This would allow the poor and the foreigner to harvest food (v. 10).
God cares deeply about the poor and the vulnerable. Through this practice, God instituted a way in Israel for the poor to work for their own food. It was not a handout but a requirement to work, not a dependency on one individual’s charitable impulse but divine command. Israelite farmers were not giving charity, they were simply obeying the law.
This law reminded Israel that the land was ultimately not theirs, but God’s. It encouraged them to show compassion for the poor and foreign resident and provide a way for them to integrate into society. This provision in the law enabled Ruth to provide food for herself and Naomi when they returned to the land of Israel without husbands or sons to sustain them (Ruth 2).
>> Take time to think creatively about how you can help the poor and vulnerable, a subject close to God’s heart (Prov. 19:17). God warns us against greed, a perpetual temptation for believers (Luke 12:15; Eph. 4:19).
Lord, are we guilty of greed? Hard-heartedness? Fear of the future? If there is something holding us back from giving and helping others, convict and change us. Bring to our attention the needy around us.