open your hand

Today's devotion from Deuteronomy 15.

Knowing the selfish inclination of man's heart, God foresaw a time when someone would realize that the time of debt forgiveness would come, and refuse to help another. Realizing that there would be no way for the impoverished to repay the debt, why should he meet his neighbor's needs? In short, because God states that if this were to happen, "...He will cry out to the Lord against you, and you will be guilty." (Deuteronomy 15:9, CSB)

When loaning to those in need, there were really only to be two things they considered: (1) it is a sin to not help those in need and (2) God will bless those who give freely. There was not really to be any consideration as to the poor or needy's ability to repay. God would repay.

Now, I realize that this is Israelite civil law, and holds no authority over modern Christians. However, I do think that this reveals much about the desire and character of God. One might ask why God would allow poverty to exist if He cares so much for the poor, but that is a deluded question. God created Adam and Eve with everything they needed. It was sin that created poverty. Sin led to a cursed earth. Sin led to broken relationships.

God realized the inevitability of brokenness in every sphere of life, including the financial. In fact, Deuteronomy 15:11 reads, "For there will never cease to be poor people in the land; that is why I am commanding you, ‘Open your hand willingly to your poor and needy brother in your land.’" (Deuteronomy 15:11, CSB)

The word translated as "poor" in scripture almost always refers to material or financial poverty. The word translated as "needy" often refers to the afflicted, as in those with disabilities. The combination of these two words then creates a spectrum or range of those in need that the Israelites were expected to care for and make provision. Regardless of how one found himself impoverished, the Israelites were to open their hands to those in need.

Maybe there is someone in your life that you are clinching your fist toward? Not that that you would strike them directly, but it could be that your refusal to help them is just as hurtful as if you were to punch them in the face. Maybe it's time to open your hand?