Open-Handed Rather Than Tight-Fisted
Saturday - October 9th
Scripture to Read Today: Deuteronomy 15:7-15
There will always be poor people in the land.
Therefore I command you to be open-handed
toward your fellow Israelites who are
poor and needy in your land.
In our shattered world, the notion that there will always be impoverished people among us is no excuse for apathy. Instead, the presence of poverty draws us in and provides us with an opportunity to be generous. The financial blessings that God has bestowed on us are to be freely given to those who struggle to have even their basic needs met.
A picture of a closed hand is not one of friendliness. A tight fist gives off no sense of spontaneity or flexibility. On the contrary, being tight-fisted conveys the opposite of generosity. It communicates miserly stinginess. A closed hand also suggests a calculated approach to saving, spending, and investing that leaves no room for flexing to meet the needs of others.
In the Old Testament economic system established by God in the law given to Moses, all debts were erased every seven years. In doing this, every seven years the financial system of Israel was reset (the U.S. economy could really use that kind of regular reset too). Debts were paid by servitude to the creditor. So, if you went into debt during the first year of the seven years, you served much longer than you would in later years of the seven-year period. If, however, you began to serve off your debt in the fifth or sixth year of the seven years, your debt was wiped away quickly, and your servitude would be short-lived.
As the seventh year approached, the well-to-do were not to hold back on lending to the needy. Instead, God told them to "give generously... and do so without a grumbling heart." As they did, they would then glorify God and be blessed as a result.
An open hand is a hand that is offering something. It speaks of a readiness and a willingness to say, "Welcome!" It relaxes everyone involved. What a clear image that Deuteronomy paints for us. We freely receive from our Creator and Sustainer with open hands. We eagerly offer what we have received to others - to those in need - with open hands.
Open hands are incapable of grasping or overthinking. We cannot simply be calculated in our giving, just as God did not do a cost-benefit analysis when He offered us the limitless gift of His Son. When the impoverished are present, and we see them, it is an opportunity to demonstrate compassion, love, and grace through open-handed, practical kindness.
As the recipients of God's grace and love, we should be open-handed, not tight-fisted in our giving to those in need!