In many places in the Bible we are called to give. We are called to give of our time, our talents, and our gifts. We find this call in other religions as well. On our confirmation trip to Denver this past weekend, we heard this call to give to those in need echoed in the foundational beliefs of the Jewish and the Muslim faiths. To give to those in need is such a basic human drive when we can set selfishness aside and allow our natural compassion to rise to the surface.
In Leviticus 19 God directs the farmers to leave the produce missed in the first picking so that the poor and the traveler may come and glean from the fields. God instructs them not to pick all the way to the edges and not to go over the field a second time. In the New Testament we see Jesus and his disciples being the recipient of this practice. When harvests were bountiful, this must not have been so hard to do. But in a year with drought and a poor crop coming in, a farmer would be tempted to get every last grape or head of grain out of the field. Society knew this practice was in place and that people could come glean from the harvested fields. Because it was a social norm, it removed the need for the poor and alien to have to come beg from the landowner. It was an early form of social justice and loving neighbor in the biggest sense of the word neighbor.
So… how do we seek to administer similar acts of social justice and giving? How do we honor the call to share our time, talents, and gifts? How intertwined these can be!! For most the simplest way is to share our gifts (money) – we give some back to the church to use in various outreach and mission projects or causes. Some also chose to donate directly to a cause or to sponsor a child in a third world country. We may volunteer to teach Sunday school or to help with Youth group or donate some time each week through a program like CASA that helps those in need. All great ways to say ‘thank you’ to God for all that he has blessed us with. All ways to share with our neighbor the things that God has given to us!
However we chose to make a difference in our world, it is all based on the same underlying idea. All that we have is God’s. In the days of old Israel, the farmers got to keep almost all of the crop that God had blessed them with. Today if you go so far as to tithe, you still get to keep 90% of what God has blessed you with. May we joyfully give from what we have been blessed with!! In the end, it is all God’s anyway!!