Crystal Writes A Blog

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Getting Rich Off the Poor


Rich Poor Divide by Flickr User David Blackwell., CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works

Rich Poor Divide by Flickr User David Blackwell., CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

The following true story might make you angry, but remember that it makes God even angrier. There was a pastor who collected one-hundred percent of the tithe from his parishioners. He had quite a large church, so he made a lot of money. But that’s not the part that stirs anger. There were people in the church who were on fixed incomes and food stamps. One of these people, an elderly woman, received a monthly call from the pastor with his shopping list for her to tithe on her food stamps. While she shopped for steak and chicken for him so she could comply with the demands of her tithe, she purchased cat food to feed herself.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 25:29 through Leviticus 25:38, we read more about property ownership, but we also see more of God’s heart in how we should treat the poor. The portion begins with an explanation about buying property in a walled city. Unlike the ownership of fields that always require the right of redemption and revert ownership in the year of jubilee, the person who sells a property within a walled city only had one year to redeem it. If he doesn’t, the ownership passes permanently to the new owner, and will not be returned at jubilee.

The reading goes on to talk about the houses and cities owned by the Levites. In those cities, the houses will be redeemed at jubilee, and the lands can never be sold because they are under permanent ownership of the Levites as their possession. This means that if someone is truly called into ministry by God, they can trust that God will always provide for them. They do not need to ask people to charge up their credit cards or send in their gold fillings as an act of faith. They do not need promise riches in Heaven to their audiences in a bid to get them to sell their precious family heirlooms to prove they love the man who brings them the gospel. And they do not need to demand millions of dollars to keep God from killing them. (They do need to repent of serving a spirit of manipulation though.)

In the final part of today’s reading, God gives instruction on how to deal with those in the community who have become poor. First, God tells the people to assist the poor the same as they would assist a foreigner or temporary resident who lives with them. And then He tells the people to make sure they do not charge interest or make any money off of the poor, but instead they are to fear God. He reiterates the command to say that even if they loan the poor person money, or if they sell him food, they are not to charge interest or make a profit. And He reminds them once again that He is the God who delivered them from Egypt in order to give them their new land and to be their God.

Going back to the story at the beginning, I have to wonder if that preacher truly feared God. And I don’t just mean fear in being afraid of what God could do with his misuse of a ministry position, but fear as in respected Him and His holy word. The verse that talks about not making any money off the poor says that instead a person should fear God, so that tells me that the person who does not care about the poor is one who does not fear God.

We know that God cares for the poor, especially if He sees the demise of each little sparrow. He knows how we treat each other, and He knows what is in our hearts when we cross the path of a poor person. I feel shame for the preachers and pastors out there who receive tithe and offering from those who actually need support from the church more than they need to be paying into it. Letting people tithe to honor their own obedience to God is one thing, but that doesn’t mean the pastors have to keep the money. May each of us trust God to lead us in being better stewards of all God gives us and in learning how to deal with the poor that cross each of our paths in a way that blesses and glorifies Him. Amen.

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April 30, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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