What does a giving culture look like?

by Kyle
published October 31, 2012


Read More Looking Up

You can find some of the weirdest rules in Leviticus.

Leviticus 13:47-59, for instance, details how God wanted the nation of Israel to deal with mildew on "any woolen or linen clothing, any woven or knitted material of linen or wool, any leather or anything made of leather."

Galatians 5:18 reminds us that because believers are given the Holy Spirit, we are not liable to the law any longer. Thankfully, we don't have to worry about quarantining mildewed clothes and presenting them to a priest to be declared clean again.

But isn't all of Scripture "god-breathed?" Doesn't the whole Bible stand forever as God's revelation to man?

While not under the law, we can learn something important about God from the weird rules in Leviticus. For instance, how practical and forward-looking is it to set a hygienic standard for a bronze-age people who would otherwise be subject to diseases almost unheard-of in our day?

Here's another rule that fits in the category of wise, practical laws: "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 alien. I am the Lord your God." (Leviticus 19:9-10)

The root principle is that God planned on giving Israelite farmers more than enough so that they could not only feed their family and make a living, but could also provide for the needs of others.

Moreover, when God ended a command with "I am the Lord your God," He was comparing that command to His own nature. Squeezing the last penny of profit from every square inch of a field (or business) like a miser for your own benefit is contrary to God's very nature and will for that enterprise. It is greed.

Modern American business models seem not to have gotten the memo. This seems to be the best context in which to understand last year's "Occupy Wall Street" movement. As diverse as the complaints were, and no matter how you evaluated participants' motives or worldviews, corporate greed seemed to be a common feature of the genuine disillusionment so many people still feel.

You may not own or run a business. If you do, perhaps it's time to incorporate Leviticus 19:9-10 into your business model. Even if you don't, maybe it's time to incorporate Leviticus 19:9-10 into your personal budget.

God has not promised to make you rich, but He has promised to provide. God has commanded us to be people who give cheerfully, and He has not left us totally bereft of ability to do so.

Moving inevitably into another holiday season, our culture becomes replete with opportunities to give of our time, money and resources. Many of these opportunities might not be worth supporting, but many more are. You won't be able to support every one that's worthy, but you can do something for one. It might mean one less gift under an already full Christmas tree, but if that means one gift goes to a child with no tree at all, it's worth it.

The economy is a little lean right now, but chances are there is someone worse off than your are. Chances are also that the moment you see that person as every bit as important to God as you are, you'll also see the "edges of your field." Those things in your life that are truly extra, though you don't want to give them up, will be easier to give away.

Every field has edges, no matter how small. If you act in faith, you will find that God has not only provided for your needs, but He has also for the needs of others through you.

God's ideal for a culture, which He had intended for Israel, is care for the poor and disadvantaged as a cultural practice. This is not by government regulation but by seeking after the very nature of who God is as a part of what culture is.

What would San Angelo look like if care for the poor were part of the very cultural underpinnings that make us all San Angeloans? I believe what you see when you imagine that version of San Angelo is God's vision for this city.

What do you think?

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