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Compassion and Justice: Food


And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest. And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the  Lord  your God.

Leviticus 19:9-10


Built into the Law of Moses were practical ways to help those in need. Whenever crops were harvested, the people of Israel were commanded to leave some of the grain behind, particularly the grain that fell to the ground. This allowed the poor to glean—to gather the leftover grain.

In the United States we throw away over 30 million tons of food every year. Approximately a third of all the food in our shopping cart or what we order in restaurants will never see the inside of our stomachs. It will be scraped into trash cans or will just sit in a dark corner of the fridge until, years beyond its sell-by date, it starts to evolve into an entirely new life form.

Leviticus shows us a different way to deal with unwanted food. It was not to be wasted, but put to good use. When he fed the 5,000, Jesus collected the leftovers, too, so they could be given away (Mark 6.34–44).

Why do you think God gave his people the responsibility of providing for those in need, rather than miraculously providing for them? What is God asking you to “leave behind” for the poor? A portion of your paycheck? Your food? Your time?

Invite someone to dinner who may have trouble making ends meet. Find out what it costs to feed a family for a week in another part of the world. Send that amount to a charity that provides for the poor in that country. Pray: Lord, thank you for rain on the hills, grass for cattle, plants for our food, grain for our health, oil for our skin and sweet fruit to cheer us up. All this comes from you, Lord God, for all of us to share.