Lent Devotional: Deuteronomy 24:19-22
by Jonathan Haefs
Deuteronomy 24:19-22 (click here)
“When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.” (Deuteronomy 24:19)
God called the Israelites to be a people who mirrored his own loving-kindness. They were to do this not only by loving people like them… from the same socio-economic status, education level, occupation, or even ethnicity.
Their loving-kindness was to extend to those who were least among them… to the foreigner sojourning in their midst… to the orphan who was not their own flesh and blood… to the widow who was not their “responsibility.”
But how were they to do this? Often, I think many of us want to love and help the least among us, but we feel powerless when it comes to knowing how to do this.
God did not leave the Israelites in the dark, nor has he left us, the church, paralyzed in our cluelessness. The Bible is replete with ways we can show God’s love toward the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. In Deuteronomy 24:19, God very practically shows his people one way such loving-kindness might be put on display.
Israel was an agrarian society. Many were farmers, and the Lord instructed them not to pick their crops clean. If they missed some while they were harvesting, they should leave it behind and allow the poor to walk through their fields and glean some for themselves.
This was not a simple hand-out, but invited those struggling into the dignity of work. This cut into the profits of these farmers for the sake of people who were struggling. It was sacrificial love that did not demean the other, but promoted and dignified them.
What does such a command teach us about the heart of God, and the call he has placed upon his people?
We may not live in a primarily agricultural society, nor are many of us farmers, but we all have “fields” of resources. More than that, we live in a culture that not only picks its fields clean for the sake of self, but has trained us to actually pick what is not there and live beyond our means!
Could it be that the radical call of God is for us to live our lives in such a way that we need not scrape together and spend every last resource we have on ourselves? Could it be that God has called us to live sacrificially that we might be less concerned with our own profits and more concerned with promoting people?
What creative ways could you dignify, love, and help the immigrant, the orphan, and the widow, if you freed up resources specifically for that purpose?
It’s fun to dream about… only it shouldn’t be a dream.
May we be a community that displays the loving-kindness of the Lord to the least of these as he displayed it to us when we were spiritually the least of these… he poured out his loving-kindness through the cross. May we put that love on display before the watching world. May we be a cruciform community.