Inspired by Deuteronomy 24:17-25:4
“When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be left for the alien, the orphan, and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all your undertakings. When you beat your olive trees, do not strip what is left; it shall be for the alien, the orphan, and the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, do not glean what is left; it shall be for the alien, the orphan, and the widow. Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I am commanding you to do this.” Deuteronomy 24:19-22 (NRSV)
In the business world, profit maximization is everything. Companies strive to increase their market share—often at the expense of their competitors—and produce more receipts while expending fewer resources. Efficiency is revered, and waste is to be avoided. Profit maximization assumes a zero sum game; one person’s gain is another person’s loss. Anything that does not contribute to the bottom line is eschewed as unimportant at best or wasteful at worst.
While this might be a winning model in a business environment, it is not how God desires the world to function. God understands that some people will experience more challenges meeting their needs than others. For a variety of reasons, people will be disadvantaged and in need of assistance. And God has provided sufficient resources for everyone. It’s only when we act as though their gain is our loss that resources become scarce.
Helping the poor and disadvantaged is not wasteful; it is obeying the command of God. It is recognizing that every single one of us has been dependent upon another, is still dependent on God, and that God has abundantly provided sufficient resources for all his creation. Turn away from zero sum thinking, and embrace the way of God’s abundant generosity instead.
Let us pray. Generous God, you have provided sufficient resources for all your people. Cure us of our greed and competitiveness, that none may suffer want on account of our actions. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.