The Beauty of Gleaning

The Old Testament law of gleaning is a beautiful example of how to help people in need without becoming enablers. Listen to the Law of the Lord:

“When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien (immigrant). I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:9-10, and repeated again in 23:22).

The word “gleaning” means “to gather or to pick up.” The idea behind this practice is to leave a little of the crop behind so the less fortunate could come along and gather some for themselves. The beauty of gleaning is that at the same time it helps the poor, it also gives the poor dignity. Gleaning gives the poor the opportunity to work for themselves, enabling them to earn their success.

I know that as followers of Jesus we are no longer under the bondage of the Law. However, there are principles behind all the Laws that we are to follow; especially if we want to enjoy the fullness of the Christian life.

Here is the modern day principle behind gleaning: As a disciple of Jesus, I need to voluntarily limit my earnings potential so as to provide for those less fortunate then myself.

For some modern day capitalists, the idea of limiting one’s earning potential is blasphemy! Gleaning goes against our materialistic mind set. Gleaning doesn’t celebrate a $300 a month raise with a $400 a month car payment. Gleaning says “enough is enough.” Gleaning looks for opportunities to leave something on the table for others.

Below are some suggestions for practicing gleaning in 2012:

  • Become aware of how much food you waste and then try and cut that amount in half.
  • If you are an employer, be willing to make less profit yourself in order to pay your employees a more livable wage.
  • As an employer, practice a more generous form of profit sharing.
  • Voluntarily give up your overtime hours at work for a part-time worker in need of more hours.
  • When you go grocery shopping, always purchase extra items that you can donate to local food pantries.
  • Start a canned food drive at your church or in your neighborhood.
  • As God has blessed you, bless others by giving above your tithes.
  • As you can afford to, instead of doing home projects yourself, hire people you know who are struggling financially, and pay them to do those odd jobs and “honey-do” lists.

What are some others ways we could practice modern day gleaning?


About Pastor Kevin

I am a husband, father, pastor, teacher, scuba diver, reader, bike rider, that order.
This entry was posted in Justice, Poverty and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Beauty of Gleaning

  1. mcmeeshi says:

    Great reflection. Thank you! One perhaps more literal example I can think of is The Portland Fruit Tree Project. Households that have fruit trees in their yards register at the P.F.Project because they always get more than enough fruit and end up with most of it rotting on the ground. The Project trains small groups of lower-income people to care for and harvest the trees, and as volunteers they keep a percentage of the harvest as well as donate much of it to local food pantries.

  2. Beth Willhite says:

    this comes at such a great time…. leading a ladies Bible study at our church and we are going through the book of Ruth. this week we will discuss the topic of gleaning!!!!! will be using this on monday!!!

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