Lent Devotion for March 12
"Caring for the Poor Among You"
Reader: “If there are any poor Israelites in your towns…”
Response: “…do not be tight-fisted toward them.”
SCRIPTURE: Deuteronomy 15:4–11
4 However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, 5 if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today. 6 For the Lord your God will bless you as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. You will rule over many nations but none will rule over you.
7 If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. 8 Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need. 9 Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: “The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near,” so that you do not show ill will toward the needy among your fellow Israelites and give them nothing. They may then appeal to the Lord against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. 10 Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. 11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.
Reader: "The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
Much of what Moses has addressed so far has to do with worship and the pull of a culture hostile to God. In this chapter, he addresses the social aspect of being a people of God. Every seven years all debts to fellow Israelites were to be canceled. Ideally, there should be no poor people among you because of God’s blessing. In the Hebrew Bible, (OT), the physical and material blessings were a sign of God’s favor. But verse seven addresses reality; there will be poor people among you and you have a responsibility as a nation, to care for them. Lend to them what they need. Then the eleventh verse states a universal truth. “There will always be poor people in the land.” It was true then and it is true now. The command is to empathize and help in significant ways. The people were to care for their own in a sacrificial manner. Remember, God is in the process of building Israel into a nation as He gives them the land. The practice of loving and serving God includes caring for the needy who live among us. Failure to do so is a sin from God’s perspective.
“Fairest Lord Jesus” by Robert Shaw Chorale (Watch on YouTube)
Caring Savior, who noticed the people around Him in need, grant that we who love thee may likewise see all the people around us in need. Slow us down enough to look people in the eye and give assistance to those who struggle. Convict us when we ignore those we are in a position to help. May we offer care for the heart and soul as we do for the needs of the body. Apparently, as long as we are in this world, we’ll have the poor among us. But heavenly Father, may we not be drawn only to those who are materially wanting, there are so many more people around us who are spiritually destitute, many of whom have no idea of their impoverished condition. Quicken our hearts and minds to see into the hurting souls, and in your Holy Spirit living in us, bring healing and hope. This is our prayer for today in Jesus’ name. Amen.
- Daniel Sharp