Hello everyone, we’re here in the sixth post of a series called “What the Bible says about Poverty.” Today we’re diving into the book of Leviticus and the practice of “gleaning.”
(9) When you reap the harvest of your land, you are not to reap to the very edge of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. (10) You must not strip your vineyard bare or gather its fallen grapes. Leave them for the poor and the foreign resident; I am Yahweh your God. Leviticus 19:9-10
The practice of gleaning was God’s commandment for his people to make sure the poor were being provided for. Gleaning is also instructed in Deuteronomy 24:19-21 which specifies that this practice is to benefit the widow, orphan, and foreigner; or those who had no land allotted to them and no means to provide for themselves. An example of gleaning is in the Book of Ruth where Ruth goes to the property of Boaz to glean the edges of his wheat field (Ruth 2).
In chapter 2 of Ruth we read this: So Ruth gathered grain in the field until evening (2:17(a)). Those who benefited from gleaning also had a role to play in this process, they were expected to go to the field to gather the leftover grain. God doesn’t command the wealthy to take anything fallen or left behind directly to the poor, those in poverty are expected to go to the field or vineyard and gather up the remaining food. If the poor wanted to benefit from what was left behind, they had to actively go and gather the grain or grapes.
We can be prone to the myth that because someone doesn’t have an abundance of material wealth, that they don’t have any assets and thus cannot be a part of the solution to their material poverty. The truth is, someone may be materially poor, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have any skills, knowledge, or resources. If we don’t seek their participation, then we slowly chip away at their dignity and worth by not acknowledging the resources God has given them.
All of 1 Corinthians 12 addresses the diversity of spiritual gifts God has given His people and how we’re all different parts of the same body, working together – But now God has placed the parts, each one of them, in the body just as He wanted. And if they were all the same part, where would the body be? Now there are many parts yet one body. So the eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” Nor again the head to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, all the more, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are necessary. (1 Corinthians 12:18-22, emphasis added).