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At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts. And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called the Lord’s release. (Deuteronomy 15:1-2)

I would expect that, by now, many of you are familiar with the Hebrew term, שמטה sh’mittah. This is the seventh of a seven-year cycle in which the land was to enjoy a sabbath rest, also referred to as a “release.” Not only was the land to be released from its’ “obligations” but debts were to be canceled during this time as well. Of course, for the one indebted to another, this was great news but what about the person who was owed? What does this commandment have to say for him?

Obviously, God expects all of us to be generous and considerate of our fellow man, but at the same time, He makes it clear that it is not wrong to expect repayment of a debt, in fact, the very next verse makes that point. The distinction that is made is when it is your brother — someone who is in the community of faith, so to speak. The goal is that there will be no poor among God’s people, that is, if everyone does as they are supposed to. So then, for a person to cancel their neighbor’s debt was more than just an act of generosity toward them, it was a demonstration of faith in God.

In short, if they released the person from their debt, they believed God to take care of them in the future. That is, in fact, emphasized in the text: “for the Lord will greatly bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance” (1 Corinthians 15:4).

We say we trust God and, in many ways we do. However, there are many areas of our life where we don’t really trust the way we say we do, or the way we would like to. There are certain things we like to retain control over, and that is especially true when planning for tomorrow and beyond. Letting go of resources that could benefit us later on is often a great test but the LORD says that if we are willing to prefer others over self, He will take care of us. So with that thought in mind, let us close with this:

“Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:20-21).

Blessings and Shalom,  




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