Friday, November 24, 2006

Caring for the Poor (16) - Modern Gleaning

Gleaning is a third way that Christians can help the poor. This is a biblical principle.

When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. (Deut 24:19-21).

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 the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God (Lev 19:910)
Land owners were required to leave some of their crop for the poor to glean.
The interesting thing about this approach is that the poor person has to work quite hard to get the grain. Gleaning is harder work than harvesting, because the easiest part of the crop has been already been harvested. This hard work develops good work habits. It also contributes to the self respect of the gleaner.

Developing modern gleaning is a challenge for Christian business owners. They should be looking for ways to give some of there surplus stock or spare capacity to poor people in ways that will help them get ahead. This will require creativity to be effective.

Rural gleaning is not practical for people living in urban cultures. Business people should be looking for opportunities to apply the gleaning principle by helping poor people through their business.

An ISP operator might provide free access to the Internet for job searches. Another business might provide training on how to use machines or equipment during the evening. Businesses could give surplus machinery or computing equipment to poor people starting a business.

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