Deuteronomy 15:4 says, “But there will be no poor among you.” Seven verses later, “For there will never cease to be poor in the land” (verse 11). Which is it?
It’s the latter. Verse 11 is an admission of reality. Jesus repeats it years later, “For the poor you always have with you” (John 12:8), and it is still reality today. Verse 4 is conditional. It is not true, but it would be true if the second half of the sentence was true. I left off the second half: “if only you will strictly obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all this commandment that I command you today.”
God would turn our world upside-down (which means the right side would be up) if we would obey him, but we don’t. We don’t even understand what he is asking of us, because we don’t understand the heart of God. For example, the eighth commandment, “You shall not steal” (Deuteronomy 5:19). We think stealing happens when someone who does not have sees someone who has and takes it from him. God says stealing is more than that. Stealing also happens when someone who has sees someone who does not have and does not share with him. Read that again.
“If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be” (Deuteronomy 15:7-8)
Does God have rules? You bet he does, and he expects us to keep them. If you love me, you will keep my commandments (John 14:15). But following God is not about following rules. It is about love, “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). And it is about life, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). If we truly desire what life has to offer, if we truly desire to love others, if we truly desire that there will be no poor among us, there is a way. Desire God and do what God says.
Lord God, You have come to bring Your justice into the land, to give Your grace to the repentant, to bless the meek and the poor, to comfort those who mourn, to bring righteousness and goodness to those who seek Your face. May Your Kingdom come and Your will be done.
Father, I pray that my heart would be free of darkness, full of light. That I would see others, love others, and serve others the way You do. God, that I would look at others as more important than myself, that I would be sensitive to needs, that I would have open hands, and feet ready to go wherever You lead. That people would praise Your name because of the faithfulness of Your followers.