Today’s Devotion: Deuteronomy 15
God has a solution for fighting poverty in verse 1, “At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts.” I had to read that twice. Imagine if you got a do-over every 7 years? If you’re in bad shape, that could be a real blessing.
I took my family on a tour at our local homeless shelter this past Monday. I thought that serving together as a family, especially serving meals to people less fortunate, might be a great way for our family to bond, bring perspective on how blessed we truly are and teach my children how rewarding it is to help others.
The people who occupy this shelter for their temporary living space are the poorest of community. For many of the residents this is an opportunity to get a fresh start; a do over. The staff helps them identify goals, provides guidance on how to find a job, interview and dress appropriately; they also teach organizational skills, basics for daily living (like how to manage finances) and basic hygiene.
Shortly after our tour my youngest daughter said to me, “Mom, why were some of those people were looking at us weird?” I responded with the kindest words I could muster, “Well sweetheart, those people don’t have homes… perhaps they were looking at us because they were ashamed to be there or maybe they think we’re ‘the rich people,’ we really are compared to them. We have a home.”
I wasn’t honestly sure what to say, you know how kids ask the most amazing questions that we, as parents, sometimes don’t know the answers to ourselves. My answer was intended to show compassion and help her per-adolescent mind that she didn’t have to be self-conscious of her image or take anything personally.
In verse 7, “If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them.” This is a basic human courtesy to be kind to the poor among us; it is not our social status that defines us.
My mom used to say, “Sarah, everybody has a heart!” What she meant was I am not better than anybody. I should not judge anyone, look down on them, act like I’m better than anyone nor be mean like a bully. Whether they have a physical disability, are poor, shop at 2nd hand stores vs. the trendy stores at the mall, don’t wear matching clothes, have body Oder, etc… My mom taught me an incredible life lesson in those words – to love everyone and recognize that everyone has feelings – Don’t judge.
Perhaps Deuteronomy 15 was God’s way of saying to the Israelites, “Everyone has a heart.” Give them a new beginning, a do-over every 7 years. Which leads me to note that Jesus gave us a HUGE do-over for dying on the cross for our sins. We are all poor in spirit and lost without Christ. He sacrificed everything for us to have eternal life. He didn’t discriminate on the basis of wealth, acts, right vs. wrongs…. he did it for those of us whose hearts have repented and accept his sacrifice. The result – a new birth.