Therefore I command you, “You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.”
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Today’s passage continues yesterday’s theme of rooting out idolatry by giving specific ways to show faithfulness to God. The people honored him in what they ate, how they tithed and how they cared for the poor. One of my favorite examples from today’s reading is the section on tithes…
The tithe that is described in Deuteronomy 14:22-29 is a second tithe given in addition to the regular tithe set aside for the Levites. This second tithe was unique in several ways. First, it was a celebratory tithe to be enjoyed with the Lord and with members of your household and others. Second, after two years of enjoying this tithe with the Lord and your neighbors, in the third year, the people were to layup the tithe in their own towns to care for the poor.
What a picture of freedom and trust. Imagine if everyone so whole-heartedly trusted God that they joyfully offered the best of the best over and above their regular tithe to the church – and the whole community would come together to enjoy the luxurious gifts of God. And every third year, the whole town willingly gave their best to be stored up for the poor. This would require that no one was greedy or selfish, and it would be a visible sign that idolatry had been rooted out of the community of faith.
In Mark, Jesus reminds us that He could come back at any time. We do not want to be chasing after other gods when He returns! His words remind us to hold on to the things of this world with a loose hand – for they will all be wiped away.
Paradoxically, as we loosen our grip on one of the most powerful idols of this world – money – and give sacrificially to those in need, we can experience joyful communion with God. And we discover that as we tighten our grip on His word and promises, this leads to fullness and satisfaction. And interestingly, His word (which brings ultimate satisfaction) will never pass away. God’s supply is endless. No idol can come close to fulfilling our deepest desires – only God can satisfy. He is good, and His ways are best!