Day 11

Caring for the Poor

from the Deuteronomy reading plan

Deuteronomy 14:22-29, Deuteronomy 15:1-23, Deuteronomy 16:1-17, Luke 4:14-21

BY Seana Scott

Mom lived with her three younger siblings in a shanty in the 1950s. Their dad left. The cupboards lay bare while Grandma lay ill with a serious sickness. Mom fended for her family by harvesting grass from the overgrown yard to make soup. The kids rarely bathed (no plumbing), and she curled her fingers into the palms of her hands to hide the layered dirt. When the school bus stopped at Tibbetts Wick Road, she walked the aisle, down the metal stairs, and out the accordion glass doors, wishing she lived anywhere else. 

The next-door neighbor took notice of the hungry children. She invited Mom to clean her small home in exchange for vegetables from her garden and chocolate chip cookies freshly made from her oven. Her generosity filled starving stomachs. 

This, I think, is the heart of the teaching in Deuteronomy 15. My mom’s neighbor opened her hand willingly to the poor in her land (Deuteronomy 15:11). She offered the yield of her plot—as small as it was—and allowed my mom to glean from the first of her produce. Granted, Mom “worked” for the carrots and cookies, but the amount of food far exceeded the amount of her work.  

I hope I share as easily, but in all honesty, it can feel uncomfortable extending our hands openly. Sometimes I wonder, Will we have enough? Shouldn’t we save for the future? How much should we give anyway? 

The beauty about God’s instructions to the Israelites in Deuteronomy is He leaves the questioning out. They know what to do—God spelled it out in the gift of the Law. He offered the Israelites specific measurements, seasons, and times to offer openly to the poor. He even declared that if the Israelites obeyed Him, God would bless the work of their hands (Deuteronomy 15:4-6, Deuteronomy 15:10, Deuteronomy 15:18). If they trusted and obeyed God, a blessing in and of itself, God would further reward them.

I wish we knew with such specific clarity in the New Testament about how exactly to extend our hands to the poor—with the guarantee of God’s blessings in return. But what we do have is an invitation to be a part of Jesus’s work on earth. He is the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 61 to “preach good news to the poor…to set free the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18–19). We may not have the same specific times and measurements, but we do have the heart of these laws—to open our hand willingly—and the heart of our Savior to bring the good news to the poor.

Are we willing, or are we not willing? Are we hoarding, or are we extending? Generosity demonstrates our gratitude for God’s current provision and our trust for His future blessing. Even if our plot is small with just a few carrots and strawberries to share, it just might mean the world to the one who receives our care—like it did for my mom.

Post Comments (50)

50 thoughts on "Caring for the Poor"

  1. Krysta Orona says:

    I’m grateful to God for the work he is doing in my husband’s life. I had been praying for God to soften his heart and loosen the grip he had on our financials. He needs financial security, he was brought up that way. But these last few weeks, he had been so generous. I suggested we make a donation to a charitable ministry to aid refugees coming in, he eagerly agreed without hesitation. I had a conservative number in my head of what I thought my husband would agree with comfortably, but I asked him how much we should give. His suggested amount blew me away. God is good! He lavishes his blessing and pours out favor on those who love him, he delights in giving abundantly. In spite of my doubtful heart, God showed up. Praising God today sisters. He is good all the time.

  2. Kristen says:

    @Foster Mama, yes I was taught that Malachi was the only place where God days to test Him. I grew up catholic, and didn’t hear about tithing. When I started attending a different church, I heard about the tithe. To be honest, I was like a little kid that plugged their ears. I didn’t want to hear this! I was convicted about this and we started tithing. Like you said, it is amazing how God provides. I heard a pastor say that in God’s math 90 is more than 100. I have seen Him provide even when my husband was hurt and not working. My friend was amazed at how God provided after the birth of their third child so that she didn’t have to return to a job that she was so anxious about. This promotion for her husband came way before the usual set time that the company normally offers these opportunities! She was so relieved and grateful. I work in a school where the students do receive free breakfast and lunch. However, they can still be hungry. There was a time that the students were receiving food for the weekend, but that isn’t happening now. I know my church has a food bank. People from the church donate. They had to cut ties with the Local food bank and don’t receive from them. They would provide food for the church to give, but there was a stipulation. Our church volunteers giving out the food couldn’t talk about God! Therefore, the pastor asked the congregation to donate to keep the food bank going. You may not know that there are people in need, but having a food bank that is started within the church is a way to help the local kids and families. We also have a health clinic for the uninsured that real doctors and nurses started. One of the churches did a clothing drive recently too. They did this at the start of school. Also, There are ways to sponsor kids each month in other countries. Here is one called, Child Hope. You can sponsor a child in Latin America so that they can go to school. This is Christian based. The sponsored children will write you letters with updates. Also, Convoy of Hope, World Vision, Food for the Poor and Food for the Hungry are other organizations that some may want to look in to go see some of the ways they help by providing food, clean water and housing. I copied this from Food for the Poor’s website:
    In addition to emergency relief (such as Feeding Centers and Nutritional Clinics) to help in the short-term, you can also offer long-term, sustainable solutions to extreme poverty in the Caribbean and Latin America through various income-generating projects. Some of these micro-enterprise initiatives include:

    Fishing village projects in Jamaica, Honduras and Haiti
    Agricultural research and training centers in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Jamaica
    Tilapia farms in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, the Dominican Republic and Haiti
    Animal rearing projects
    Woodworking shops
    Sewing enterprises
    Automobile repair shops
    Women’s training centers in Guatemala and Honduras
    This could help change their future. Some people do dress down days at work to collect money to be able to collect money to help. This is a good way for people to pitch in that may have never heard of these organizations. Hope everyone has a great weekend. Prayers for all!

  3. Seana Scott says:

    Ladies, love your hearts and variety of ways that you are learning to live generously to those in need. Your ideas are inspiring me!

  4. Jackie says:

    I love that your Mom’s neighbor helped out in a way that still allowed your Mom to retain her dignity. It wasn’t just a handout. I see the same here in this passage. This is spoken of as a loan, not just a handout. We can do a lot of damage as Christians, especially in the more prosperous West, by just throwing money at a problem.

  5. Jen Brewer says:

    TAYLOR—love your heart to give. I know Global Catalytic Ministries directly helps believers in Afghanistan.

  6. Jen Brewer says:

    TAYLOR—love your heart to give. I know Global Catalytic Ministries directly helps believers in Afghanistan.

  7. Claire B says:

    Dearest Tina, all the prayers have been heard and felt. Minimal pain, some frustration. My surgeon and physical therapists are very happy with my progress at the ripe old age of 65. Thank you for remembering me.

  8. Tina says:

    Praying @TRACI GENDRON, praying!

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