In between church services one recent Sunday, the pastors of my church allowed me the opportunity to sell my new book to any members interested in buying one. In typical M.E. form, I had no cash whatsoever. Every time one person paid with $10 (that’s how much the book costs), another member would come with a $20 bill and the $10 would then be theirs. This went on for some time until one person came up and I did not have change. Instead of requesting change, he decided to sow a seed into the ministry, said “this is for you,” and told me to keep the change. Shortly after he left, however, someone did come up to buy a book and paid with 10 $1 bills. After putting aside the portion of cash to cover my tithes, I decided to give the $10 to someone dear to me, my niece, Butterfly. I picked her up and, once she was properly strapped into my car, I handed her the money and said, “this is for you.” As always, she was very appreciative and held onto the money for dear life. And as with all money that she receives, she placed it aside because it was already earmarked for church offering.
The seed that was sown into my ministry was then sown into my niece, who in turn sowed it back into the church, and ultimately, back to God. Those four simple words perpetuated a cycle of giving and generosity… the kind that God mentions in Leviticus 19:9-10. Open your bibles to that passage (NKJV listed below).
When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the Lord your God.
My women’s study bible explains that Leviticus “emphasizes covenant matters of specifically Levitical or priestly interest with a focus on holiness and worship (The Women’s Study Bible, 2006).” Simply put, the book of Leviticus covers the law of the Lord, as spoken to Moses and Aaron, pertaining to the children of Israel. Chapter 19 of this book is another conversation that God was having with Moses, concerning moral and ceremonial laws.
When I read this passage yesterday morning during my devotions, the Lord simply whispered, “this is for you.” In His most subtle manner to date, He told me that this was the message He wanted me to share today… so I am just being obedient.
To explain, these two verses are literally saying that when a farmer is reaping the harvest of his land, he should not remove all the food of the harvest, but instead save some for the poor and the stranger who will undoubtedly stumble through looking for food. In the lower story, God was saying that farmers should anticipate outsiders in need of food, who lack the ability to pay. In the upper story, God was telling us to give to those who have less than us.
While this is one scripture in the Old Testament, there are many scriptures in the new testament where Christ commands the same thing from us- to give unto “the least of these” (E.g. Matthew 25:40-45). Everything that we have is a gift from God. He has planted a good seed and sown bountifully into our lives and now God is literally telling us to continually take from our reaped harvest and say to those around us who are in need, “this is for you.”
Another thing that I learned from this passage is that God is calling us to provide for those who will come after us. In verse 10, God used the word “leave” to indicate that the remaining grape harvest would be for someone who came after the farmer. Likewise, God is calling us to provide for those who are next and yet to come. One of my favorite quotes says that we should “leave the earth better than we found it.” I love it because it takes into consideration that we will not be here forever, and we need to adequately prepare for those after us. What we do and choose today drastically impacts the generations after us. We must consume what we need to survive, but always leave something for the person/people after us.
The last thing that stood out to me in this passage was also in verse 10; God said to leave behind for the poor and the stranger. In modern times we would use the terms immigrant or visitor, instead of stranger, as that word meant someone who was not from that area. In either definition of the word, God is calling us to care for those whom we do not know. He is asking us to care for the poor, those who are yet to come, and those that we do not know. He is calling us to be compassionate. He is calling us to be selfless. He is calling us to be children who resemble their Father.
Whether it is our time, resources, food, clothing, faith, etc., God is calling us to give unto those who do not have what we have. Every day that God allows us to see is a blessing and His way of saying “this [new day/opportunity] is for you.” He loves us so much that He continues to pour into us…so that we can pour into others.
Just as my niece knew that the $10 was a gift to her by the use of the words “this is for you”, we must realize that God gave us the greatest gift of all through the life, death, and resurrection of His only begotten Son. And if I can use my spiritual imagination, I believe that:
- When Christ came, God said, “this is for you.”
- When Christ preached and taught, He said, “this is for you.”
- When Christ died for our sins, He said, “this is for you.”
Beloved, today and every day, I encourage you to turn to the poor and those yet to come and the stranger, give of your harvest, and say…
…this is for you.