“And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, I am the LORD your God. You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived … When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.'” (Leviticus 18:1-3a; 19:9-10)
I have a friend from church who loves to garden. Every year she plans dozens and dozens of tomato plants from seed. These are specialty tomatoes—purple ones, pink ones, striped orange and yellow. And she cares for all of them until they are ready to go into the garden.
But there are always too many. She plants too many on purpose. Because when the time is right, she brings a huge tray of seedlings to the church, and invites people to pick out the ones they like and take them home to plant. Everyone benefits—especially those who don’t have the money to buy fancy tomatoes for their families. They will eat like kings, because of her generosity.
In today’s reading, God is telling the people of Israel to do something similar. They will plant crops and harvest them, but they are supposed to be deliberately careless in the harvest, leaving food behind. They will pick grapes from their vineyards, but if they drop any, they are supposed to let them lie. The food that grows around the edges of the field, or that gets overlooked on the fruit trees—that food is for anyone who needs it, for poor people, travelers, refugees. The Israelites are to live freely and generously—because God has been generous to them.
What has God done for them? God saved them from a life of slavery in Egypt, and you know that slaves must count every penny and each bite of food they get. For a slave, the future is never secure. They cannot trust their masters, and so they must hang onto any advantage they can get.
But now the people of Israel are slaves no longer. They are to trust in God to provide for them, and they too will help provide for their neighbors. It’s a whole new way of living—a wonderful way, freeing way. God calls us to live this way also, and why? Because He has done for us what He did for Israel—He has set us free from slavery to sin and death.
When we were slaves, we lived in fear of what would happen to us. But God had compassion on us and sent Jesus to set us free. It was a costly mission—the price of our freedom was Jesus’ own life. But He was glad to do it, because His love is generous. Looking at us, He counted it well worthwhile. And when He rose from the dead, He broke the power the fear of death held over us. Now all of us who trust in Jesus will live forever. That’s good reason to be generous!
We Pray: Dear Lord, live in me and through me to show Your generous love to the people around me. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on July 5, 2022
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved
1. Who is the most generous person you know?
2. Why do you think so?
3. In what specific ways can you share Jesus’ generous love with others?