Open Your Hand
“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.” (Deut 15:7-8)
Generosity is a hallmark of God’s people, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy! God has freely given us all that we need spiritually and physically and encourages us to join him in being givers. Yet this passage shows us that this process is not natural and will require actively challenging some of our tendencies.
God describes well our inclination against generosity. “You shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother”(Deut 15:7). It is easy for us to just not care about others’ problems. Maybe they are poor, but maybe it’s their fault! Why should I help them?
“Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say, ‘The seventh year, the year of release is near,’ and your eye look grudgingly on your poor brother, and you give him nothing”(Deut 15:9). If a wealthy man knew that all debts would be forgiven in the seventh year, he would hesitate to lend just before that year. This is “an unworthy thought” and constitutes acting “grudgingly.” In all these God shows us our tendency to hesitate and think up reasons why we shouldn’t help those who need it.
God’s way is to confront and rebel against such greed. “You shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be”(Deut 15:7). The image of the open hand is particularly powerful in demonstrating our desire to grasp, clutch, and hang on to our money and things.
Opening our hand is an act of faith, trusting that in sharing we are doing right. God concurs, warning us that if we are stingy, the poor may “cry to the LORD against you, and you be guilty of sin”(Deut 15:9). But when we give, “the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake”(Deut 15:10). In a consistently unexpected turn, giving away our wealth leads to us always having what we need.
The lesson is simple. We see need around us regularly. Open your hand!