Daily Readings – Leviticus 23-25, Proverbs 7, Romans 11
“‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the Lord your God.’”
I grew up in a Christian home and always knew that I should set aside 10% of my income as a tithe to God. However, this concept of “leaving the gleanings of our harvest” was something I had never heard about until later on in life. The very first time I became aware of the concept of “leaving the gleanings of your harvest for the poor” it dramatically impacted the way I viewed my finances as a marketplace missionary.
There are multiple times in the Bible where tithing is mentioned. This is referring to the portion of our income that belongs to God. God was clear that we are called to give back that portion to him from the first fruits of our harvest. Throughout my life I always lumped the money I would donate to churches, missionaries, and other faith based organizations together with money I donated to other charities that were doing great work with the poor and marginalized in society, but not necessarily faith based organizations. I just assumed that together, those should make up 10%.
After all, caring for the poor was part of what Jesus commanded us to do.
I don’t think this is a bad way to think by any means. In fact, I think it is quite normal. Then I learned about this concept of our “gleanings” and that they are entirely separate from our tithing. It reshaped my thinking.
Our tithing is God’s money. I once heard a Christian comedian once say that giving this 10% to God isn’t actually giving, it is simply “not stealing”! That cracked me up. I love this mindset! It is so true. God has given us everything we have and simply asked that we set aside 10% for him. That portion we should set aside without thinking, because it belongs to God.
On top of our tithe God has also called us to help the poor. We are called to leave our gleanings for the poor, orphans, and widows. This is a concept also seen back in Leviticus 19:10 and then again in Deuteronomy 24:19 and Ruth 2:2, 15.
We live in an unbelievable era of prosperity. If we have been blessed with a solid income as a marketplace missionary, we have a responsibility to not only tithe, but to also leave our gleanings. We are called to help the poor as much as we can.
Jesus did not refer to a magical 10% number when talking about giving to the poor. We saw, back in Matthew 19, that he was far more radical than that.
When it comes to giving, this has been a guiding principle for me over the last few years. God gave me everything. “Giving” 10% back is just the starting point he has called us to. Beyond that we are also called to “leave the edges of our fields unharvested for the poor and marginalized”.
I love shifting the question of, “God, how much are you calling me to give?” over to, “God, how much are you allowing me to harvest? How much are you allowing me to keep?”
When we start with remembering that it all belongs to God, it makes setting aside our tithe along with leaving our gleanings a truly joyful event!
Thought to ponder
Where might God be calling me to “leave the gleanings of my harvest” and give that money to help the poor on top of my normal tithe?