Loving Your Neighbor

Entering week two of my treatment is not a milestone, but it is a step toward the end. Six
more weeks of treatment will bring more side effects than I am presently experiencing,
but the present side-effects are sufficient to let me know that the radiation is doing
something! So far, the experience has been positive. The clinic and staff are professional,
well trained, and personable. Marcia and I feel secure under their care. But we are being
cared for by many more in in a number of ways. Prayers, words of encouragement, and
sacrifices made by others remind me daily of what it means to love your neighbor.

For example, we are guests in a lovely home provided by a mission board. Now this is a
mission board with who I have no official affiliation. Other than a few mutual friends, I
am a stranger to these people. Their response to our need has been an excellent example
of what is taught in Leviticus 19:9-10 where the farmer is told to leave surplus grain
for the poor and for sojourners. These folks have let us glean the “extra” in their fields.
Though this guest housing is primarily for the use of their missionaries and staff, it
happened to be empty and available at this time. Like wheat left standing in the corners
of the farmer’s for the poor to glean, these folks intentionally planned for someone to use
their facilities – sojourners in need.

And this gleaning law was not just a handout. It involved a work ethic on the part of the
poor as well. My wife was recently reading Flora Thompson’s Lark Rise to Candleford
and noticed that “leaving the corners” was still practiced by the wealthy landowners
in 19th Century England. It was interesting that the resulting bag of flour, gleaned by
the poor in the village, held a place of honor in each of their living rooms for the first
few weeks after its milling. The gift of dignity was an added blessing. So it is where
we stay as we contribute to utilities, cleaning, and supplies. The wise management of
their resource has not left us feeling like “free-loaders.” We are grateful for both their
generosity and their wisdom.

The gleaning laws in Leviticus are more than ancient agrarian policies for Israel. They
are examples of how to intentionally love our neighbors. “The main lesson to be learned
is that God’s people are to be generous. . . . [W]e must deliberately plan our financial
lives so that we have extra left over to give to those in need. Don’t reap to the edge of
your fields. And don’t spend all your money on yourselves.”1 Living in a consumer mad
culture has taught most of us that our money is ours and for our welfare and pleasure.
Though we all agree with Job’s financial appraisal, we still somehow think it is all ours
in between our naked coming and our going. Not true. It’s all on loan from God and
under our temporary management. Said management has eternal implications though and
implies our need to be careful in stewardship. While most have little and cannot consider
doing big things for others, we can still decide to intentionally plan on sharing some
of it. To intentionally plan on giving to others in need is to intentionally leave some of
your “grain” standing in the field for others to harvest. While some are more creative and
wise in finding resources to use in blessing others, most of us can at least find a few ways to sacrifice our hard earned cash in order to love our neighbors.

As with all mission boards, our hosts frugally use every given dime for the Great
Commission. Yet they have found a way to share surplus space and, thereby, love their
neighbor. Most people believe that surplus is for their own consumption. God’s people
are to be a direct contrast and learn to intentionally sacrifice as well as use any surplus
resources we have for the poor and for the sojourner. Paul counseled us to work hard so
that we have something to share with those in need (Eph. 4:28). Love your neighbor on
purpose. This is, Jesus said, how others will know you are His disciple.

1. Kevin Deyoung and Greg Gilbert, What is the Mission of the Church: Making Sense of
Social Justice, Shalom and the Great Commission, (Wheaton, IL, Crossway, 2011), p.

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