Throughout scripture, one way God provided for the poor was to allow them a place to gather food. The Israelites were instructed to leave the “corner” of their field uncut so that those less fortunate could glean there.
Furthermore, when you harvest the produce of your land, you are not to harvest all the way to the corners of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and resident alien. I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 23:22
We see this in practice in the book of Ruth. Ruth and Naomi had returned to their home, widowed and empty. But Ruth went to the field of Boaz where she was allowed to glean behind his hired workers. This was an accepted practice and Boaz appears to have a reputation for generosity. Even so, he increased his generosity when he learned her story.
What can we learn from God’s instruction in the verses above from Leviticus? Here are some of my thoughts and wonder what observations you might have.
- God didn’t say how big the edge or the corner should be. He just said to leave it uncut. So it is up to the individual to decide where to cut. Recognizing that family fields were relatively small – usually smaller than a basketball court – even a small area would be sacrificially generous.
- Generosity and giving to the poor was a sign of gratitude to God for His blessing. Again, it was up to the individual to determine what that looked like.
- The size of the uncut corner was evident to the community. I’ve been taught that giving should always be private, but I see a different principle here. Public generosity doesn’t need to point to ourselves, but can be a testimony to what God has done. A way of honoring God for His blessing.
- There will always be the poor among us. God specifies this is for the poor and needy and the sojourner among us. He doesn’t discriminate under what circumstances they arrived at that position.
- God provides for the dignity of work. This isn’t a handout. The grain was available but had to be gathered. As we can see from Ruth’s story, it wasn’t easy work.
I’m less connected to crops today but God provides for me in different ways. I wonder what uncut corners look like in my world. What am I leaving for those in need?
I need to be intentional about generosity and want my giving to point only to God and my gratitude for what He has done.
What does that look like for you?