S (Scripture): Leviticus 23:9 The Lord said to Moses: 10 Speak to the Israelites and say to them: When you enter the land that I am giving you and harvest its produce, you must bring the first bundle of your harvest to the priest… 22 When you harvest your land’s produce, you must not harvest all the way to the edge of your field; and don’t gather every remaining bit of your harvest. Leave these items for the poor and the immigrant; I am the Lord your God.
O (Observation): As God instructs Moses and God’s people on how to worship God when they enter the Promised Land, God is ensuring a key point: All of the produce is from God and it’s for ALL people (not just those who follow God).
In the first verse above, God’s people are reminded that the first “fruits” belong to God. This is a sacrifice to God, and is to be considered an offering of thanksgiving. This stands as a reminder that God brought these folks to this land.
Finally, God reminds the people not to grab every square inch of produce. Some will need to be left to feed the poor and the immigrant.
These are reminders that being a follower of God is not “all about me.”
A (Application): Its all about me! This seems to be the mantra of America these days. How can I get the coolest eyebrows? How can I make a million dollars by age 40? How can my lawn look better than yours? How can my child score higher than yours / play better than yours / gain more wins than yours?
I’m disgusted with how self-centered that I have become. I think about how many people are starving and hurting in this world and yet I’m more worried about getting enough money saved up to by a new HVAC unit for the upstairs portion of my house!
So…does it make sense to give 10% of my income to the church I serve? I still have student loans to pay, and a mortgage, and we need to save up for a car for our son. So many things pull me inward and yet so many causes exist in the world. What can I do to help? Better yet, what can WE do to help?
First of all, the congregation I serve gives 8% of all regular offering to our larger church body of the ELCA, which we call the SouthEastern Synod (the ELCA congregations in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee). So, at this point, I’m comfortable giving almost exclusively through my congregation, knowing that a portion of that money goes to support world hunger efforts, seminaries, and more. That is something that we do together as a congregation: giving to the wider Church to make an impact in the world.
Second, I hope you will share your experiences of giving to the poor or immigrant. Or that you might feel inspired to give to an organization that you believe makes a difference in this world. Charity: Water is a great organization. ELCA World Hunger and ELCA Disaster Response are two other fascinating organizations bringing hope and stability to those in deepest need in our world. (FYI: all three of these groups move 100% of your donation directly to serve the communities with which they engage their services. Overhead administrative costs are covered by donors and institutional monies.)
Do something! Something not just for you, but for the community, for your neighbor…
P (Prayer): God, inspire us to give for others. Amen.