Deuteronomy 14:29b  “…in order that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands which you may do.”

Observation:  This ends the 14th chapter of Deuteronomy, a large part of which is devoted to commands regarding tithing. God expected two tithes from His people: the first to the temple for the Levites (Lev. 27:30) and the second to bring to a place chosen by God to be consumed in celebration (Deut. 14:22). The routine exception was that every third year the second tithe was to be kept in one’s home town for the support of the poor, (Deut. 14:28), specifically including aliens, orphans and widows. Then comes the crescendo where God reveals why all this should be done: so the Lord can bless me and the work of my hands.

Application: It seems I have run across another of Scripture’s “if-then” passages. If I want God to bless the work of my hands, then I will do the things He has defined as being on the critical path to gaining my success.

A couple of thoughts arise as to my own heart relative to this. First, as part of the affluent among the earth, this clearly points to the need to be generous to the poor. The calculus of how I define a tithe in the context of today’s tax laws and government benefits for the poor can easily become a dodge that leads to hoarding. I remember the story of the man who solved his quandary of how much to give by drawing a large circle on the ground. He stood in its center and as he threw money into the air he declared that everything that fell outside the circle was God’s, and the rest he would keep for himself. But that formula probably isn’t what these passages contemplate.

Another realization then comes: this command to generosity toward aliens, orphans and widows does not become effective only upon my achieving financial comfort. It does not regard my expensive health battles, my employment status, or my business’s profitability. Didn’t Jesus point to the poor widow (Mark 12:43) and declare that she gave more than all the other givers? He didn’t legalistically define her two copper coins as being ten percent of her entire stash; instead He remarked on the condition of her heart, giving as she did out of her poverty.

And finally, who are the aliens among us that Deut. 14:28 refers to? Might those include illegals among us? Gasp! But Lord, they have no right to be among us, consuming our resources! But Lord…really??

Prayer:  Father, the standards you set for intimacy with you are sometimes breathtaking. But they are always achievable, aren’t they? Give me a heart to pursue you above all else. In Jesus’ name, Amen.