Gleanings – Margin Call

Leviticus 19:1-18

“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field to its very border.”

Margins for those on the margins, that is what God is describing here. The burden upon the people of God is to not consume all that they produce. That way the poor and sojourner, who have no means of production, can feast upon what remains, the crumbs under the table if you will.

This makes me think of mowing my grass which by the way I thoroughly enjoy. But in the ordinary course of things when I mow the grass I cannot get the grass right up against the house or against the edging around the beds. For that I must use my trusty Weedeater. It takes some effort to harvest to the edge of the yard. It would be much easier to leave some grass on the edge, much easier to leave margins.

Of course this is meant literally. Leave un-harvested what is on the edge! Pluck grapes from the vine but leave those which have naturally fallen to the ground. This is a means of compassion and God’s provision for the poor.

But not all of us live in an agrarian society, so we need to look for the deeper truth to apply to our often urban lives. It is this. If I consume all that I produce, I have nothing to give away. If I plan every minute of my life in pursuit of my needs or even the needs of my family, I will have no time to devote to anyone on the margins, the poor, the sojourner, the brokenhearted, the lonely, the abandoned, nor the lost.

The truth is I need to be intentional about creating margins in my life. When I ask someone “how are you doing” my demeanor needs to say I will listen attentively as long as the answer takes. How many times have we asked that question expecting the standard response, “fine thank you?” How many times have we been annoyed when someone dared to take our question seriously?

Marathon training has had me on the streets a lot lately. On several occasions in the last three months a car has slowed beside me in order to ask directions. Sadly, there was in me that momentary frustration of “hey, can you see I’m running?” No margins. But then I have stopped, listened and answered as best I could. And what great satisfaction there is in orienting someone who is lost.

More and more I find there is stress in life without margins and joy in life with them. It seems God is on the mark yet again.

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