If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not treat it like a business deal; charge no interest. If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, return it by sunset, because that cloak is the only covering your neighbor has. What else can they sleep in? When they cry out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate. Exodus 22:25-27
“In the biblical tradition, the sabbatical year is an important law and a tradition to safeguard the people of Israel. It is a time to begin anew. After a sequence of six years of work and also of economic successes and failures, the seventh year is considered to be a time in which social relations should be restructured.
The tradition of the sabbatical year is an application of the days of the week to a sequence of years. In the Bible three variables of the theme are linked together: rest for the land in the seventh year (Exodus 23:10-11), the freeing of slaves (Exodus 21:1-22; Deuteronomy 15:12-18), and the forgiveness of debts every seventh year (Deuteronomy 15:1-11)…
The seventh year became a special year of liberation. It is a Jubilee time, a time of grace… The laws of liberation of slaves and remission of debts constitute a profound intervention in the social relations of dependence in ancient Israelite society, establishing a “time of grace” so that the impoverished and indebted can begin life anew.”
“Haroldo Reimer in “A Time of Grace in Order to Begin Anew” in in God’s Economy: Biblical Studies from Latin America edited by Ross and Gloria Kinsler (Maryknoll: Orbis, 2005) 71-72.
Whilst I am traveling and ministering in Guatemala, I hope you are enjoying the insights from Latin American scholars on topics related to generosity. And the new header photo above is the time of sharing biblical teaching and practical tools with 28 workers in the G2G network of ministries yesterday.
Haroldo offers us keen insights on the sabbatical year in the teachings of the Old Testament as a “time of grace” mapped out for His people by their compassionate God. The teachings related to rest for the land, the freeing of slaves, and forgiveness of debts. They were safeguards to ensure that God’s people offered the needy a time of grace.
We need such safeguards today. These do not appear as not handouts that create dependencies but rather seasons of providing a helping hand so that after the season, the person is free to begin life anew. Some people might think this teaching as utopian. On the contrary, grace makes us such people in the New Testament.
It is happening now. After yesterday’s session (pictured above) Laura Mazariegos of Potter’s House came to me and thanked me for coming to Guatemala on multiple trips. She said the generosity and accountability teachings have shaped her life and service and influenced how they many live and work, and also impacted many ministries too.
What’s my point and how does it related to generosity? When God’s people lived out the sabbatical year, they gave a hand up with compassion and multiplied people of grace. In the early church, this led to no needy people among them (Acts 4:34). Know anyone who is impoverised and indebted that you could assist over time toward freedom?Read more