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Thursday, March 26, 2015

It's not all for you.....Day 32 Lent 2015

Day 32  Lent 2015

"When you beat your olive trees, do not strip what is left; it shall be for the alien, the orphan, and the widow."  Deuteronomy 24.20

The Gleaners, Jean-Fran├žois Millet, 1857
We no longer live--most of us--in the agriculturally driven society of the ancients; but we still have something to learn from their wisdom.  You see back then if you had an orchard, a field, a vineyard you were required by God to not be overly efficient!  What I mean by this is that those who were most marginalized and in danger of being exploited  (the foreigner, the orphan, the widow), those who had no one to look out for their best interests, were to be remembered at the time of harvest.  They were to be allowed to go and glean from the fields that which they needed to survive.  That is you didn't harvest everything, nor did you try to maximize your profits to the point of forgetting your obligation to provide for others.   Ruth, a very important figure in the history of the faith, and ancestor of Jesus, had to rely on the goodness of this practice as she was a foreigner and a widow living on the edge of subsistence. 

Most of us no longer have vineyards and orchards from which the most vulnerable can come and receive; but we do have income, skills and time that should fall under the same ordinance of God in regards to caring for the last and the least of these.  Why?  Partly because it is a good exercise in gratitude.  When we convince ourselves that every olive, every grape, every penny and every dollar solely belongs to us, then we have begun traveling down a road of ingratitude and greed that will lead to hardened hearts and misery.   Wealth is not bad, but what it can do to the soul is terrifying.  

So today I want you to be a tither.  You should tithe on all your income (give 10% on behalf of God's work in the world...it's actually fun... my family does this and we have yet to miss a meal).  But alas, this might just push you over the edge, so today I want you to tithe on what you make for one day.  So if you make $50,000 a year, that comes to $137 a day, so I want you to give away $13.70.  If you make 25K then cut that in half.  If you make a 100K then double it!  But whatever you do, give it to help the foreigner, the orphan, the widow, the homeless, the destitute, the sick, the forgotten....I don't really care who you give it to, but give it away!  Now that you've become a 'tither' for a day...I wonder if you could do it for a week, a month, a year, a lifetime....otherwise your not only beating your Olive trees but stripping them as well.

A prayer: "Dear Lord, guard me from the evils of greed and help me to enjoy what you have given, even as I give.  Amen."



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