Did you ever take an economics class in school? I always found it fascinating, and I especially enjoyed macroeconomics: The large-scale systems and structures that make economies work. Essentially, it’s the way in which our smaller, daily economic decisions are influenced by larger economic tools like laws, taxes, infrastructure, etc.
As far as I know, there is not a U.S. law which dictates that a citizen must provide for their poor neighbors. Though the U.S. has laws and programs to help alleviate the burden of poverty (minimum wage, housing laws, welfare programs, etc), there is no specific statute requiring individuals to help their neighbor. In other words, if my next-door neighbor lost his job and had his water and electric shut off and couldn’t afford groceries, strictly speaking as an individual American I am not bound by law to help him out.
Further down in Deuteronomy, however, the law of Moses says, “For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’” (15:11 ESV, emphasis mine)
While some U.S. laws may encourage charity (i.e. tax-deductible giving), charity is a non-negotiable in God’s kingdom. The tools He uses are compassion and self-giving love—the macroeconomy of Heaven. It’s about being faithful to God and loving others. And Jesus assures us that all of God’s commands flow from those two things.
What stirs in your heart when you hear this passage from Deuteronomy? Do you immediately sense hesitation or excitement? Journal your thoughts. How do God’s commands differ from your cultural understanding of poverty?