The value of our times seems to be this: “work hard all the time so that you can earn money and afford to buy all the stuff you want that will make you happy. You earned it, its yours.” How did you feel when you read chapters 23-25? In the 50th year all property was to be returned?!? How preposterous. What’s the point of buying and selling land if you can’t keep it? Exactly.
There are two lessons to keep in mind from today’s reading. God set aside special days in the yearly cycle of His people in order to force them to stop, take a deep breath, and reflect on the nature of reality. Notice how He forced them to do things on these festivals that go against basic human nature. They were called upon to make sacrifices, confess their sins, stop working, and live in simple tents. Why? Because God knew that the natural human tendency is to buy into the notion that it is through our own hard work that we are worth anything. God says, “Stop it!” you need to just sit down and take a look around. Who is God here? You need to rest, enjoy my creation, and stop thinking that the fate of the world rests in your hands.
1. As Christians we are no longer bound by the strict religious calendar. Especially in Protestant traditions we have completely lost sight of the fact that there is a natural flow to the year. There are seasons of intense work and then there are seasons of rest, reflection, worship, and celebration. Perhaps it would do us well to follow a simple plan of “creating space for perspective”
Daily: Take time to breathe deeply and meditate on the fact that God is in control and you are not.
Weekly: Take a Sabbath day to worship God and fellowship with your spiritual community.
Seasonally: Observe the seasonal flow of the year and take advantage of Holy-days like Christmas, Easter, and Summer vacation! If you want to last for the long haul in an effective life of ministry, it would do you well to allow yourself to slow down in these seasons and rest.
2. The second lesson has to do with property. We think that we actually own things. We spend a great deal of time and energy acquiring things, protecting things, and maintaining things. For what? So that when we die we can do what with them again? Oh yes…nothing! The sooner we can grasp the idea that EVERYTHING belongs to the Lord and that we are nothing more than stewards of what He has chosen to give us, the sooner we can get on with living in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Did you catch in the previous chapters the notion of the gleanings? (19:9-10) The people who had the crops were only supposed to run through the fields one time for the harvest. Anything that was left over belonged to the poor. In that way everyone was taken care of in the community, regardless of their wealth. Can you imagine if everyone in our world did not consider their own property their own, but took it upon themselves to make sure that everyone had enough to eat? It would be a very different world.
Take some time and examine your own life. Are you taking time to breathe and step off the rat wheel of “success” in our culture? Do you view your property as God’s and not your own? Are you hoarding your “hard earned” treasures for yourself, or are you allowing the “gleanings” to go to the poor?