It seems we cannot escape pop-topic issues and news-worthy segments of the day on US immigration, equal pay and women’s issues. But really, those are not the issues that most tug at my heartstrings.
In my annual reading plan of the Bible, last week hit me hard with these two verses:
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. 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. Lev 19:9-10
Well, my first thought was that this was not in relation to tithes, it is in addition. It is quite clear that we are to tithe to God – which we now take to be to the church. This is a good idea for upkeep and maintenance of resources and taking care of staff. That amount of money usually falls short of covering more than the materials needed for the youth and children’s programs, salaries and building expenses – there are few if any churches that offer services to the neighborhood or the poor. If they do, they are constantly seeking donations. My folks served dinner to the homeless regularly when they lived in Denver, but the organization about fell over themselves when hubby and I donated about a hundred US dollars. They were thrilled that someone would give to them to assist. Was it that unusual?
I wonder how many of us give to organizations that care for the poor and foreigners in our own land, above and beyond the tithes that we give. Yes, my husband and I do, but I am certain it is not enough.
The picture that my mind forms in reading these verses is one that is generous, as our God is generous. It summons the image of Ruth gleaning from the field to care for herself and her mother-in-law – the grain that was left in the fields. Boaz abounds in his care for the poor widows. At first, he does not know who this woman is, so we cannot say that he does this only for family. He does this out of the goodness of his heart or for obedience to the decrees of God. But he does it, nonetheless. He is abundantly generous toward a stranger.
We have recently moved to Manila, where poverty and abundance abide side by side. I think it will be a great place to donate some time to the poor and underprivileged. The metroplex is home to millions (20 million they say) and anywhere from 20-35 percent live in slum conditions. So, I am hoping to give to the community in some way; there is certainly need.
I started researching a bit some months ago. I first looked into churches in the area and what outreach they might offer. I found that one church set up a public library. Yep, that is it. How can we be the hands and feet of God if we don’t even try to reach out? Now, in all fairness, this is based on checking the websites that are available for the locations that have them. But, I am disappointed because I expect more. I will keep looking and let you know what I find to get involved in.
There are ample opportunities to reach out and meet a need, wherever we live in the world. One of my nieces was on a kick for a while and wanted to carry bags of necessary items and stable foodstuff for homeless so she could give it to people in need. (She is elementary age.) My sister-in-law donates time at a free clinic. Food drives and clothing drives are easily organized.
So, maybe it is now obvious that the issue tugging at my heartstrings is the poor and needy.
It can be that easy to give a hand to others. God even decreed that the poor shall be cared for from our fields, our income. He has blessed us and asks us to in turn bless others.
I hope you will look around and see where you might give a hand. Post in the comments what you are doing!
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