“If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say, ‘The seventh year, the year of release is near,’ and your eye look grudgingly on your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the Lord against you, and you be guilty of sin. You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’ Deuteronomy 15:7-11
“God has been challenging my understanding of giving and generosity over the last few years. I have always held too tightly to money and relied on my control of money for security. I have realized that through giving, and particularly through spontaneous giving, that I am being freed from the power of money. My dad often says that “giving breaks the power of money.” I have seen this to be true more often in my life recently because of a new understanding of what it means to give. If I rightly connect that God owns it all, then I must hold all that I have with an open hand. This means that if I feel God telling me to give, I give. It is so freeing to sit back and listen and watch how God teaches me to use money as a tool to accomplish His will instead of letting it be used as a tool to control me. Giving is such a remarkable blessing. Don’t miss the adventure and the joy!”
Michael Blue in Master Your Money: A Step-By-Step Plan For Experiencing Financial Contentment by Ron Blue with Michael Blue (Chicago: Moody, 2016) 249. This is one of the required texts for my Faith and Finances course.
Remember not to read today’s biblical text prescriptively as instructions to manipulate God to find the path to material prosperity, but as descriptively for discerning God’s design for life. And consider three thoughts in response to the Scripture and meditation.
Firstly, whatever we hold tightly to in our hands, actually holds tightly to us. When our hands our open, they can both receive and give. When they are clenched, they are free to do neither. We fail to function according to God’s design for us.
Note the connection between the head and the heart. The text says not to harden our hearts or shut our hands. When we don’t share what God supplies, we are guilty of sin. Holding back what God designed to be enjoyed and shared is stealing (cf. Eph. 4:28).
Secondly, there will never cease to be poor in the land. I chuckle when I hear people talking about eradicating poverty on earth. I say this because the Lord declares that the problem will persist, so who do they think they are that they can say otherwise?
Only in the new heaven and new earth under the reign of Jesus will that condition be gone. Why make this point? Blue rightly notes our role in the meantime. We get to be people who share with open hands and experience the remarkable blessing for doing it!
Thirdly, don’t miss the journey language today. It’s “challenging,” “freeing,” and an “adventure!” My students here in Manila this week like to quote my oft-used saying, “You don’t figure it out until you live it out.”
Sure it’s hard. It requires faith to take this journey. That’s the challenging part, but it’s also an invitation to freedom, and the pathway to adventure as we realize the privilege of blessing others with open hands in gratitude for all we have received from God.