January 16, 2008

Not an Option

Deuteronomy 15:7-11

There will always be poor people in the land.
Deuteronomy 15:11


For all the social programs, time spent, and monies given, poverty is still with us. Is that what God means in our reading today? Is that what Jesus meant in Matthew 26:11? Will poverty never disappear?

Today's reading doesn't answer that question. Rather, it reflects on how we treat people who have less, or are indebted: Don't manipulate the laws of debt forgiveness, but give without a grudging heart. Do not be tight-fisted, but openhanded. This applies to the needy who are closest to you as well as to those who are far away.

Rather than solving the problem of poverty, God in­structs his people to be generous to the needy. This suggests that the needy are not the only ones with a problem. Not having enough is devastating. But enjoying plenty with a grudging heart, a tight fist, or a merciless attitude toward the poor rots the soul.

Blaming the poor for their poverty is wicked; and carping about the rich is self-defeating. Let the needy not begrudge those who have, nor be tight-fisted with those less fortunate, for they know what it means to be needy. Christ exempts none of his disciples from the practice of generosity. And from those to whom much has been given, much is expected.

Do not withhold from others God's generous giving to you. There's always someone who needs something.

Lord, may we use your gifts to us-gifts of teaching, liberal giving, encouragement, showing mercy-with generosity and open hands. In your name we pray. Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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