A Tender Justice

Deuteronomy 24:10-22

Here is what God has been insisting upon us since we were liberated from slavery in Egypt. Our former status as slaves should be all the reminder that we need, but if it is not, pay attention to our calling as a people. We are to treat the poor with care and concern. You may be asked to make a loan to one who is poor. Don’t require any sureties that will make his life worse. If, for example, all he has to give as surety for the loan is his blanket, return it to him before he retires for the night. His thanks will be worth more than a payment. Pay any poor laborers who work for you a fair wage and pay it on time. Do not impoverish them further by bleeding them with inferior wages or by playing tricks by withholding benefits from them.

Everyone must be responsible for their own actions. As for you, make sure your every action is above board and just — especially when it comes to resident aliens, orphaned children displaced into the ‘system,’ and abused women. Make sure that you participate in a society and a system that ensures the poor of enough food to sustain more than just the minimums required to sustain life. Moreover, make sure that their dignity is not robbed by their having to beg for food. It is far better if you help them work to feed themselves by leaving extra unharvested grain in the field, olives in the trees, and grapes on the vine. Rejoice that those in need will be able to provide for themselves and families by gleaning your crops for themselves. This is what continues to be insisted in the name of God. Perhaps. Ignore it at our peril as a people.

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