Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Homeless Question

" '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. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.' " Leviticus 23: 22

A few days ago a friend and I posted a question on Facebook. The question went something like this:

"LADIES- You’re on a date with a guy. He's very respectful and nice. A homeless man asks for change. He ignores them. Turn off?"

It started off as a kind of silly question to see what kind of importance people place on outward displays of generosity, but it quickly evolved into something bigger. Here are a few things that I learned.

Hardly anyone likes seeing people in poverty.

There is entirely too much poverty all around us.

Many of us have no idea what to do about it.

It was nice to see the responses of most of the men and women who commented. Most people found the notion of ignoring the person to be quite unsavory. But many disagreed on what should be done.

A few folks didn’t believe that they had any responsibility to give at all. On the other hand, some of the women expected to see some generosity from their man, and would dig into their own pockets to match it.

Pretty cool.

Many talked about giving their leftover meals or whatever change they had. But everyone agreed that they personally couldn’t give to everyone with a hand out. Otherwise they would be left with nothing.

That’s why I find this scripture to be so interesting. The laws that we are reading through are like the constitution of Israel at the time. For better or worse they provide systematic rules of conduct designed to supply for everyone’s needs.

It is telling that this type of generosity was built into the structure for how the nation was to be governed.

Generosity wasn’t a matter of choice; it was a rule of law.

Perhaps it is right to take a hint from this scripture. We may not be able to afford to give monetary aid to every struggling person that crosses our path.

The problem of poverty is greater than any one person.

But what do we do with the resources we have? Do we think about what we can do with the edges of our fields? Do we really need to reap 100% of our harvest just for ourselves?

Food for thought…

Today’s Reading: Leviticus 23-24: Mark 1: 1-22


  1. 100% all for me? sounds super gross when you put it like that. I am a chronic giver, even when I am without, I think I suffer from the opposite. This was super amazing!

  2. Great post, Clarence. Some thoughts:
    1) I do think there is a responsibility to give. One of the things I love about the Law (Jewish law) is that charity was built into the law. The Jews were CHARGED to give, to provide for those who were in need. I don't think that responsibility has changed.

    2) I think most of the time, when presented with an opportunity to give, we CAN give. I think that perhaps, people tend to think only in terms of money, but that is not the only way to give. Maybe I don't have any money on me to give at a particular time, but I know that there's a soup kitchen down the street or a church around the corner that has food and can direct the person there.

    3) Our attitude towards what we reap for ourselves informs our attitude about giving. If you believe that what you reap isn't intended solely for your benefit, but so that you can demonstrate G-d by benefitting others, then you might be inclined to give more often.

  3. @Sterling Thank you very much! And that's what makes you extra dope.

    @Marisa-Andrea Yes Yes Yes! I agree with all three. With Jesus as my example it is clear that giving is my purpose. Besides... "give and it shall be given unto you..." There's no way we can out give God.


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