Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The law of gleaning: Christian welfare

This week, we looked in Leviticus 19:9-10 at the law of gleaning. It is an interesting section of "little" detailed laws, but important, because Jesus characterized one of them, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," (v. 18) as one of the greatest of all the laws in Scripture.

The law of gleaning describes the Bible's form of welfare: give the poor an opportunity to work; leave your excess for them; don't take everything that is rightfully yours, but leave something for the poor and the aliens. The only reason given is because God is the Lord, i.e., it is his nature to give graciously of his bounty to others who do not deserve it.

Giving an opportunity to work also enables the recipient to maintain his dignity. He labors just as hard for his food as the landowner and his hired workers.

Many of us don't have fields and vineyards, today, so we must find other ways to implement this law. On a personal level, we can share what we have with everyone in need. For example, share that smile and your "How are you?" with the clerk who serves you. Leave a nice TIP for the waitress who serves you.

Collectively, we may be able to form Co-ops where the poor can trade their time for products. For example, the cooperative may arrange for pickups from local groceries or bakeries of their out of date products. The poor could glean through the products in exchange for making pickups or serving the other customers, pulling off the outer leaves and brown spots, etc.

You may be able to think of other ways to leave gleanings so others can have some work and some income.

19 comments:

SmyleGearsInMotion said...

It was not required that you work in order to glean from someones land. This is because this Law was set in place to not only help the poor but also the infirm, the elderly and even the young. Share freely and expect nothing in return.

BillC said...

An important point is that someone has to work. The landowner can exercise charity by leaving corn unpicked on the corners and edges of his field, but corn doesn't pick itself. Someone, probably the family of the infirm and elderly (1 Timothy 5:8), but even the church, if there are no relatives, must do the work to get the corn to the table. The limit of charity given by the Apostle Paul was the attitude of the recipient. "If a man will not work, he shall not eat." (2 Thessalonians 3:10)

SmyleGearsInMotion said...

I said it wasn't required to work in order to glean, not in order to harvest from your own land. Secondly, "the church" is not a building or an organization as we know it. The true Church is The Spirit of Christ which resides in all who believe. Which makes perfect sense considering that basing your life on anything man-made is treason against God.

BillC said...

By definition, gleaning requires work. It is harvesting from someone else's land. The charity is the act of leaving unharvested crops so that the needy (or their family) could both receive the charity and maintain their dignity by harvesting their own food. The church is the people, i.e., Christians, who obey God, in this case, in charity.

SmyleGearsInMotion said...

Flesh is nothing (evident by the fact that sacrifice was done away with after the crucifixion). How can you say that the people are the church? You use the small act of gathering left behind crops as work, by that same right then even something as simple as breathing is work. God has commanded us to never work on The Sabbath. You think you can make it through God's day of rest without filling your lungs?

BillC said...

Here is how I (not I, but the Bible) say people are the church:

Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 1 Corinthians 12:27

And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. Ephesians 1:22-23

Now, you tell me where the Bible says that breathing is work.

SmyleGearsInMotion said...

1 Corinthians 12:27 - Stop trying to put physicality into a non-literal description. It says "body" not flesh.

Ephesians 1:22-23 - You make my point for me with that last verse. "Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.". The fulness of him = The Spirit of Christ, All in all = believers/followers.

Point out where The Bible says breathing is work? You are putting the cart before the horse. Please point out where I quoted any such thing from The Bible in the first place.

BillC said...

"Please point out where I quoted any such thing from The Bible in the first place." That is my point. If it is not from the Bible, it is from flesh, which you have already said is valueless.

SmyleGearsInMotion said...

That is a pathetic argument. You haven't posted any proof just your feeble opinion. You have been weighed and measured and have been found wanting.

BillC said...

That is your balance. I am content to let God do the weighing, not you.

SmyleGearsInMotion said...

You we're weighed by The Word of God, not be me.

eshine said...

It looks as if the only two commentors have missed the entire point of the article...Flesh on the bottom, SPIRIT on the top!!

Anonymous said...

wow this post reminds me why I am not nor will ever be a Christian ever again. You have managed to reinvent a piece of ancient Jewish law through the lens of modern Republican BS about the laziness of people who are struggling...as if there are all these great middle class jobs that poor people or struggling people simply refuse to take. I do volunteer work for a local gleaning group...thanks for reminding me why I totally rejected Christianity! Churches just seem like tools of the Republican party or big business.....

BillC said...

You also need to abandon Judiasm as well as Christianity. There are not many Republicans in the church I am part of, so you must be reading something into the post. I admit to viewing the ancient Jewish law through a lens, but it is the lens of the New Testament. The message was intended for the church, and not used in any political arena. I wish you well in your pursuit of the perfect religion.

Deborah said...

The point of this scripture is to demonstrate the love of God for all people. God made provision in His word for the poor, the widow, the foreigner, the fatherless. However, in the book of Ruth, she actually asks for more. She did not want to simply glean from the edges. She asked to glean among the sheaves - among Boaz's own personal harvest - not the little left lying on the ground. She has a mother in law to feed and needs real food not just leftovers. Boaz agrees to allow this because He understood the purpose of God's law. The letter of the Law says, "Let them glean". The Spirit of the Law says, "Feed the hungry." Don't be bound by a narrow and precise religion. Jesus freed us from that. Religion is doable. Love stretches us beyond what we can do on our own.
Don't argue between yourselves. Simply agree, if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and your neighbor at least as much as you love yourself, you are following after God. Simply love.

Anonymous said...

It's true that gleaning required work. But so does filling out forms to get approved for food stamps. Unless you want to make the argument that paperwork isn't work, which would be absurd.

Anonymous said...

Interesting : )
I'm tired of gleaning the leftovers...are you?? I want ALL that the Lord has for me.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

Anonymous said...

At the end of the instruction concerning gleaning I believe I read these words: "I am the Lord your God." Is it possible that the Great I AM was stating that He is the Great Provider for everyone?

Bill Chapman said...

Good point!