Deuteronomy 15:7-141NIV New International Version Translations
7 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. 8 Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need. 9 Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: “The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near,” so that you do not show ill will toward the needy among your fellow Israelites and give them nothing. They may then appeal to the Lord against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. 10 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. 11 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. 12 If any of your people—Hebrew men or women—sell themselves to you and serve you six years, in the seventh year you must let them go free. 13 And when you release them, do not send them away empty-handed. 14 Supply them liberally from your flock, your threshing floor and your winepress. Give to them as the Lord your God has blessed you.
The word Deuteronomy means ‘the second law’. This translates the Greek title of the book. The title in the Hebrew language is ‘these are the words’. The book does not just repeat earlier laws. It is a record of the covenant relationship between God and the Israelites. The book teaches people how to love God and their neighbors. There are 100 references from Deuteronomy in the New Testament. Deuteronomy is still important for Christians today, although the culture is different. The book is sometimes called ‘The Book of Covenant Life’.
In Deuteronomy 15, the law concerning Hebrew servants is repeated. There is an addition, requiring the masters to put some small stock into their servants’ hands to set up with for themselves, when sent out of their servitude, wherein they had received no wages. We may expect family blessings, the springs of family prosperity, when we make conscience of our duty to our family relations. We are to remember that we are debtors to Divine justice, and have nothing to pay with. That we are slaves, poor, and perishing. But the Lord Jesus Christ, by becoming poor, and by shedding his blood, has made a full and free provision for the payment of our debts, the ransom of our souls, and the supply of all our wants. When the gospel is clearly preached, the acceptable year of the Lord is proclaimed; the year of release of our debts, of the deliverance of our souls, and of obtaining rest in him. And as faith in Christ and love to him prevail, they will triumph over the selfishness of the heart, and over the unkindness of the world, doing away the excuses that rise from unbelief, distrust, and covetousness. (De 15:19-23)
If we obey God, we will be generous to people. Jesus said to his followers, ‘Love your enemies. Do good things to them. Lend and do not expect anything back.’ (See Luke 6:35.) 1 John 3:17 tells us this. ‘Let us suppose that a rich person does not help his poor neighbor. We cannot say that the love of God is in the rich person.’ The writer of Deuteronomy knew that Israelites would not obey God. Therefore, there would always be poor people (verse 11). However, there would also be opportunities to help them.
This law is about Israelites who were slaves. To be a slave was not a bad thing for the Israelites. They had to look after their slaves well. And the Israelites had to respect their slaves. Slaves served other people in order to pay their debts. When their owners freed them, the owners gave them generous gifts. That would help them in their new lives. And it would remind their owners about what God had done. God had freed the Israelites when they were slaves in Egypt.
Items for Discussion
- How do you feel the idea of forgiving debt every seven years would work in today’s society?
- Why does God tell us there will always be poor?
- What is generosity?
- Do poor exist because man is not generous enough?
- Why should receiving generosity generate the response of a more generous heart?
- Are we compelled to give to those who do not deserve our generosity? Why or why not?
2 Corinthians 9:6-15
6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” 10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
In this chapter Paul seems to excuse his earnestness in pressing the Corinthians to the duty of charity (v. 1-5), and proceeds to give directions about the acceptable way and manner of performing it, namely, bountifully, deliberately, and freely; and gives good encouragement for so doing.
We are given proper directions about the right and acceptable manner of bestowing charity; and it is of great concernment that we not only do what is required, but do it as is commanded. Now, as to the manner in which the Paul would have the Corinthians give, observe the following:
- It should be bountiful
- Works of charity, like other good works, should be done with thought and design
- It should be freely, whatever we give, be it more or less: Not grudgingly, nor of necessity, but cheerfully
Items for Discussion
- Who are the most generous people?
- What generosity is the most potent; that which is instinctive, learned, or commanded?
- Why do you think that generosity brings back gifts?
- Paul says that the generous receive both physical gifts as well as spiritual gifts – Name as many kinds of both types of gifts as you can think of?
- What measures of generosity should a church use to grade itself on how well it is meeting God’s expectations? Think in both what it gives and what it receives.
- 1NIV New International Version Translations