February 27, 2015

God smiles on love

Leviticus 23–25
John 10:1–21
Song of Solomon 8:6–9

God has always wanted His people to take care of each other, particularly those in need. He also commanded offerings for sin, but other offerings of worship and sacrifices in His honor. Of course this comes at a price. I noticed the following Old Testament verses today . . . 

“And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 23:22) 

“These are the appointed feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim as times of holy convocation, for presenting to the Lord food offerings, burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings, each on its proper day, besides the Lord’s Sabbaths and besides your gifts and besides all your vow offerings and besides all your freewill offerings, which you give to the Lord.” (Leviticus 23:37–38) 

“If anyone injures his neighbor, as he has done it shall be done to him, fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; whatever injury he has given a person shall be given to him. Whoever kills an animal shall make it good, and whoever kills a person shall be put to death. You shall have the same rule for the sojourner and for the native, for I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 24:19–22) 

“For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its fruits, but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the Lord. You shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. You shall not reap what grows of itself in your harvest, or gather the grapes of your undressed vine. It shall be a year of solemn rest for the land. The Sabbath of the land shall provide food for you, for yourself and for your male and female slaves and for your hired worker and the sojourner who lives with you, and for your cattle and for the wild animals that are in your land: all its yield shall be for food.” (Leviticus 25:3–7) 

“And if you say, ‘What shall we eat in the seventh year, if we may not sow or gather in our crop?’ I will command my blessing on you in the sixth year, so that it will produce a crop sufficient for three years. When you sow in the eighth year, you will be eating some of the old crop; you shall eat the old until the ninth year, when its crop arrives.” (Leviticus 25:20–22) 

After many years of giving what I can in various ways, I can affirm the truth hinted at in the last passage; we can give without fear because no one can out-give God. He takes care of those who take care of others. No matter what I give away, I will always have enough, even more than enough.

Jesus is the supreme example. He gave His life for His own. Notice, He gave it. It wasn’t taken from Him. He said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11) and “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
And of course, “There was again a division among the Jews because of these words.” (John 10:17-19) They didn’t get it. He was talking about willingness to sacrifice one’s own life for the sake of others, and all they heard was Him calling God His Father, so they argued about that when they should have been getting out their wallets in obedience to His example.

The love of God in Christ can be so easily dismissed in favor of a human spat over issues. I can see some of the farmers in the OT arguing over where their property line began, just so they could take a few extra sheaves of grain for themselves instead of leaving them for the poor as instructed. Maybe some were skimping on their offerings, or bringing less than their best. Maybe a few were over-planting just in case the land didn’t produce enough on the years it was to be left fallow, in a sense arguing with God concerning His promise to take care of them. 

The people of God still have spats about money; where it should be spent, and how much should be kept aside, and on it goes. I’ve sat in on some of those arguments and God had to teach me that I can trust Him with my cash, cash flow, bills, and needs. He is my shepherd. He gave His life for me. How shall He not provide whatever else is necessary?

Solomon knew this. He asked for wisdom instead of power and wealth, and because he did, God gave him all three. He knew the value of money and power too, but he was more impressed by love. He said, “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised.” (Song of Solomon 8:7) 

It is true today. If someone gives up all he has because he loves God, people may despise him, and if not, they will at least think he is totally deranged. No matter. God knows. He smiles on those who trust Him enough to give and give and give.

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