November 16, 2010

Being Open-handed

Deuteronomy 15:7-15

There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore … be openhanded toward … [the] poor and needy.
Deuteronomy 15:11


The fact that there will always be poor people among us in this broken world is not an excuse for apathy. Rather, the presence of poverty calls us and gives us an opportunity to show openhandedness toward the poor. The blessings we have in our hands from God are to be offered freely to those who have few or none.

A closed hand is not a friendly picture. A closed hand is a grasping hand or a fist. It turns inward. In our reading for today, a closed hand also represents an attitude of calculation. The well-to-do were not to hold back on lending to the poor as the seventh year drew nearer. Instead, they were to “give generously … and do so without a grudging heart.” Then they would honor God and be blessed.

An open hand is an offering hand. It says, “Welcome!” It lets go. No wonder this is the picture drawn for us in Deuteronomy. We receive with open hands from our Creator and Sustainer, and we openly offer to others what we have received.

Open hands don’t grasp or calculate. Just as God did not run a cost-benefit analysis when he offered his infinite gift to us, so we are not to be calculating in our giving. The presence of the poor is an opportunity to show grace by open-handed generosity.

Giving God, forgive our calculating. Thank you for your immeasurable gift. Help us to see the poor as an opportunity to open our hands to you. Receive our prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.

About the author — Kent Van Til

Kent Van Til was a missionary in Costa Rica. He taught theological ethics both there and in the USA. He is the author of four books. The most recent is a spiritual biography of his grandmother entitled, "A Name for Herself: A Dutch Immigrant's Story." Kent likes to fish, hunt, make music, and entertain his grandchildren.

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