Revisiting the Message of Leviticus 19:9-10

The biblical principle of Leviticus 19:9-10 requires that the corners or borders of the land not be harvested so that the poor, widows, orphans, and sojourner are taken care of—an express command from God. Never is this principle played out more vividly than in the second chapter of the book of Ruth when Ruth returned to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law Naomi, both widows.

Through her actions of gleaning grain, she encounters Boaz, and as they say, the rest is history. On display is the majesty of God’s providence in that the suffering endured by these women now brings them to a position where Boaz and Ruth meet, and ultimately the grandfather of David, Obed, is born from their union.

If you look into the topic of the poor a little more closely throughout Scripture, you will find a significant recurring theme throughout—we are to care for the poor.

The hope of the poor was based on their status before God. Because they were part of the people God redeemed from the slavery of Egypt, they inherited God’s blessings of freedom, protection, and a portion of the land (Leviticus 25:38, 42, 55). The Psalms picture God as the refuge and deliverer of the poor (Psalms 12:5; 14:6; 70:5).

Jesus was particularly concerned with the poor, and He preached a message of good news to the poor (Matthew 11:5; Luke 4:18) and told parables that encouraged generosity toward the poor (Luke 14:13–24). The first Christians provided for the needs of poor widows (Acts 6:1–6), and Paul exerted great effort to collect funds for the poor in Jerusalem (Romans 15:26). However, this positive attitude toward the poor was not present among all the early believers (James 2:1–6).

The NT measured true religious character by a person’s care for the fatherless and the widow (James 1:27). The early Christians cared for the widows (Acts 6:1–8), but Paul limited these provisions because of abuses on the part of some (1 Timothy 5:3–16). Jesus condemned the Pharisees for devouring widows’ houses (Mark 12:40).

As Christians, we are to bear the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22-23), a belief that James emphasizes as well when he wrote that faith, without works, is dead (James 2:17).

With the Christmas season upon us, those in need should be upon our hearts even more than normal. This is a perfect time to let the Light of Christ shine through and bring a glimmer of hope to someone less fortunate than you.