Every seventh year you shall grant a remission of debts. And this is the manner of the remission: every creditor shall remit the claim that is held against a neighbour, not exacting it from a neighbour who is a member of the community, because the Lord's remission has been proclaimed....
If there is among you anyone in need, a member of your community in any of your towns within the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tight-fisted towards your needy neighbour. You should rather open your hand, willingly lending enough to meet the need, whatever it may be.... Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, 'Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbour in your land.'
(Church in Wales Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)
God gave a series of laws to the Israelites, one of which was that the land should lie fallow every seven years - good agricultural practice we might think, to allow the soil to rest. So money which was borrowed (probably for an emergency, since they grew most of their own food) would be hard to pay back during the seventh year when their was no food coming in. Loans were thus paid back over six years and any left unpaid would be cancelled. God wanted His people to be generous to one another. In return He promises to bless those who are generous. However, God recognises that there will still be those who are poor, so the community are commanded to care for those in need.
These laws might be thousands of years old, but as Christians we should take them to heart, and ask ourselves if there is more that we can do to help those in need:
Today is Sunday, can we review what we have done in the previous week to help those less fortunate than ourselves today, and then every Sunday? God says He will bless us for all that we do!
we thank you for your generosity to us,
and for all that you give us.
Help us to be as generous to others
who are in need;
and to think of ways that we can
do something to make a difference
to those with little.
For a number of ways to help those who are poor around our world, you might like to look up the following website. Can you do one thing off this list?