READ: Deuteronomy 15
THINK: “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. Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need...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. 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.” – Deuteronomy 15:7-11
There are over 140 million orphans in the world today. 80 percent of the world’s population lives on less than $10 a day. Over 22,000 children will die today of malnutrition. Millions of children across the globe won’t be able to go to school and will suffer diseases, cuts, and wounds simply because they don’t have a pair of shoes.
God cares about that! He cares because every number is a name. Every one of those people who fit the categories above is an individual made in God’s image whom he cared enough to give his life for. He is the God who is at work to set all things right and make all things new. Doing that requires provision for the poor. And God calls his people to be a part of that.
The great pastor and theologian Jonathan Edwards sums up the passage this way:
From this account the doctrine is obvious, that it is the absolute and indispensable duty of the people of God, to give bountifully and willingly for supplying the wants of the needy. But more particularly, it is the duty of the people of God to give bountifully for the aforesaid purpose…Merely to give something is not sufficient. It answers not the rule, nor comes up to the holy command of God. But we must open our hand wide. What we give, considering our neighbor’s wants, and our ability, should be such as may be called a liberal gift. What is meant in the text by opening the hand wide, with respect to those that are able, is explained in Deu. 15:8, “Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his want, in that which he needeth.” By lending here, as is evident by the two following verses, and as we have just now shown, is not only meant lending to receive again; [for] the word lend in Scripture is sometimes used for giving; as in Luke 6:35, “Do good and lend, hoping for nothing again.”
We are commanded, therefore, to give our poor neighbor what is sufficient for his need. There ought to be none suffered to live in pinching want, among a visible people of God, who are able, unless in case of idleness, or prodigality, or some such case which the Word of God excepts. It is said that the children of Israel should lend to the poor, and in the year of release should release what they had lent, save when there should be no poor among them. It is rendered in the margin, to the end there be no poor among you; i.e. you should so supply the wants of the needy, that there may be none among you in pinching want. This translation seems the more likely to be the true one, because God says, Deu. 15:11, that there shall be no such time when there shall be no poor, who shall be proper objects of charity. — When persons give very sparingly, it is no manifestation of charity, but of a contrary spirit. 2 Cor. 9:5, “Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.
It is the duty of the visible people of God to give for the supply of the needy, freely, and without grudging. It doth not at all answer the rule in the sight of God, if it be done with an inward grudging, or if the heart be grieved, and it inwardly hurt the man to give what he gives. “Thou shalt surely give,” says God, “and thine heart shall not be grieved.” God looks at the heart, and the hand is not accepted without it. 2 Cor. 9:7, “Every man according as he hath purposed in his heart, so let him give, not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver.”
This is a duty to which God’s people are under very strict obligation. It is not merely a commendable thing for a man to be kind and bountiful to the poor, but our bounden duty, as much a duty as it is to pray, or to attend public worship, or anything else whatever. And the neglect of it brings great guilt upon any person.
ASK: What does it look like in my life to open my hand wide to the poor? What changes do I need to make in my life and my generosity in order to fulfill God’s command and expectation for me?
PRAY: Ask God to change whatever parts of your heart need to be changed in order for you to be a generous giver. Ask him to line your heart up with his and help you overcome your fear or your objections. Trust him to provide and commit to give liberally to those in need to today.