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When you come into your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes at your pleasure, but you shall not put any in your container. When you come into your neighbor’s standing grain, you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not use a sickle on your neighbor’s standing grain. (Deuteronomy 23:24-25)

I find this particular command to be fascinating, especially when compared to our present culture and mindset. Imagine, someone walking into your garden and helping themselves to some of your vegetables — not with a basket or bag in hand, but just what they could eat then and there. I will admit — it would take a great deal of restraint on my part not to say something (and that’s putting it mildly). Perhaps that is the point of this command because, very likely, people then would be tempted to have the same response.

God teaches us that what we perceive to be ours is, in reality, His. It is His earth we plant in; He sends the rain that gives life to the seed and the sunshine that ripens the fruit. Therefore, He has every right to expect that we would share the bounty bestowed upon us with those who have need. At the same time, He instructs those who come into their neighbor’s field or vineyard not to become greedy. He makes provision for all to satisfy their hunger but not to fill our pockets with the fruit of someone else’s labor — that would be akin to theft. 

And so we learn: blessings should not be hoarded and kindness shown should not be abused. Have regard for those who are hungry and in need; in response have respect for those God has placed in a position to bless and assist you. In either case, the overall lesson is that all of us should deny our selfish impulses thus demonstrating that we truly do “Love God” and “Love our neighbor.” When we fulfill these commands, we have pleased our Father in Heaven.

Blessings and Shalom,  




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