Missiology Through Scripture – Leviticus 19:9-10

“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.” – Leviticus 19:9-10

The ownership of property and the possession of wealth is not sinful. However, not providing for the poor and the sojourner is. It is those who have the goods who are to willfully and lovingly provide for those who have not. Caring for the needy is not an optional activity for the followers of the Lord.

The simple legal adherence to providing for the poor is also insufficient. God has shown us grace and mercy so we can lovingly and joyfully pass it on to others. God has provided our wealth and security, not so we can hoard it, but so we can cheerfully provide for those in need. Our heart towards the poor has a direct relationship to our heart for God and the gifts he has given us. Mark Rooker said, “God himself is characterized as one who cares for the poor and needy. Hence a person characterized by greed, covetousness, or stinginess cannot be a holy person.”[1] A heart inclined toward God must be, without equivocation, a heart inclined toward serving those in need.

As a Christian, the new heart given to us in justification, calls for us to not simply provide for those in need. A new person in Christ is to love the downtrodden and suffering. A jubilant disposition is what the Lord commands of us. This tendency toward unquestioning service to the poor flies in the face of our Western ideals of independence, self-sufficiency, and pulling oneself up by your own bootstraps. The worldview of a Christian will, and should, always challenge cultural norms. Christians were never intended to be comfortable in any culture. Each and every cultural bias of man should take a backseat to God’s radical worldview.

The missional disposition that is at the core of every Christian church and every disciple of Christ should compel Christians to provide for the poor, not from slavish obedience, but love.

 

[1] Mark F. Rooker, Leviticus, vol. 3A, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 256.