19 When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20 When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. 21 When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. 22 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt. That is why I command you to do this.
What a beautiful picture of what it looks like to be generous to the poor! Leave some of the food behind, on purpose, for others to come behind and gather.
Warning: Political Content Ahead
Notice that the grapes are left on the vine, and the olives are left on the trees. The Lord expects the poor, the orphaned, and the widowed to walk through the fields and pick what they need to live.
In other sections of Deuteronomy, I learned that every third year, the firstfruit offering is given to the Levites to be used for them AND for the poor. So there were multiple pathways to feeding those who were hungry; through the every-third-year law, and also through leaving behind some of the fruit and grain for the poor.
I wish there was a way to do something similar in our modern day fields…or in our modern day grocery stores. How much food is thrown out? Is some of it rescued before it spoils and given to the hungry? Could we plow up some weedy corners and turn them into neighborhood gardens where sweat equity equals a percentage of food? Why do we need the Government to do what the Lord has called us to do out of reverence for Him and out of love for our neighbors?
I heard of a church in town that did take over a small, abandoned plot of land adjacent to their property, with the owener’s consent. The church members work the garden and give a percentage of their produce to the homeless shelter. What if the homeless shelter itself had a garden, and the people who lived there were taught how to grow food? I can’t think of a more practical application.
Not sure what these musings have to do with me personally….yet. The Lord is stirring something inside me as I write these words. Maybe there is a way to “overlook a sheaf” in these big-city times.