Key verse: Deuteronomy 24:19
Big idea: Covenant blessings do not belong to us.
Deuteronomy 24 describes an important part of Israelite law called gleaning. When a farmer harvested their field, it was forbidden to go to the very corners of the property or to go back and collect places that had been missed before. These edges of the fields belonged to the poor, the widow, and the foreigner, who had no land of their own. The farmer owned the land, had tilled it, planted it, and watered it, but God commanded that the fruits of their labor belonged to someone else. When the harvest was completed, the indigent could go behind and "glean" the remainder. It provided for their basic needs while preserving the dignity of work. But how was it just for God to take the products of the land from the one who owned it and had worked it to give to someone else?
The biblical explanation was that landowner was a misnomer: the land belonged to God. All of it. The worker lifted the hoe with the arms that God had given him, planted his crops in God's earth, let it soak up God's water, and the crops grew with God's sunshine. The blessings belonged to God and He graciously blessed us with them, but that does not make them ours. So when God instructed the Israelites to tithe every year, He was not taking 10% of their possessions but allowing them to keep 90% of what belonged to Him. So to give them the bulk of the land and then give the corners of His property to the poor, God was reminding them about who really owned it all.
This is a good lesson for us too. We may take the credit for the blessings that God has given us, but He alone deserves the glory. If our strength and our time belong to God, then however he asks us to use those resources is His business. If He makes us a steward of His money, then we are obligated to use it in the way that pleases its real Owner.
Discussion idea: What is some blessing in your life that you are tempted to claim ownership of? How could you redirect it for God's glory?
Prayer focus: Lord, remind me that all of the resources in my life are your blessings, and help me to use them for Your glory.