Modern-Day Gleaning

The Gleaners by Millet (1857).

The Gleaners by Millet (1857).

Have you ever privately wondered if it’s worth reading some of the obscure parts of the Old Testament?  You know what I’m talking about – the genealogies, the laws about purity, guidelines for building the temple, and so on.

Jesus suggests it’s entirely worth it in Luke 24:44-47 –

44Then [Jesus] said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

In just a few words, He gives us the key to making the entire Old Testament (“the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms”) relevant, if not enthralling.  He says it’s all about Him – especially His death and resurrection, and how everyone can be forgiven through Him (verses 46-47).  When we understand that, pages that used to lull us to sleep explode with life and relevance.

To take one example, let’s look at Leviticus 23:22 – “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.”   In a word, when landowners gathered their harvests, they were to leave significant leftovers for those less fortunate than they were.  This was costly because these crops could otherwise be sold for additional profit.  However, this reflected God’s own heart for the poor.

So, what does this have to do with your life as a 21st century medical student or healthcare professional?  A lot, actually.  You just have to step back from the details and see the larger principle at work.  Here it is: If we want to care for others, it will always cost us something.  In the end, though, we too are blessed by giving up what could be ours (see Acts 20:35).

How could you apply this to your life in healthcare?  Here are some suggestive possibilities:

  • Is your career path, choice of specialty, or current position driven by maximizing financial gain with only token regard for helping others?   This would be equivalent to harvesting every last crop in your own self-interest.
  • Are you willing to “fall behind” your peers in terms of career advancement if need be?  Israelite landowners who obeyed Lev. 23:22 would have been less profitable and “upwardly mobile” than their peers who did not, and that would have been hard, but beneficial for the needy.

Just to say it clearly, there’s nothing wrong with careers that bring higher financial returns or prestige.  But Lev. 23:22 forces us to wrestle with our selfishness and calls us to make sacrifices for the benefit of others.  You’ll have to work out the specifics with Jesus.  But in our “me” culture, it’s hard to even ask the questions with open hands.  May God’s sacrifice for us in our own spiritual poverty encourage us to both ask, and then obey where He leads.

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About Bryan Stoudt

On my personal website (bryanstoudt.com), I help Christians follow Jesus in a noisy, broken world. I also have the privilege of helping Philadelphia's healthcare students and professionals do this as Area Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA). More information at cmdaphiladelphia.org. On a personal note, I'm fortunate to be married to my wonderful wife, Sharon. Together, we have four fantastic children. In my spare time, I enjoy roasting coffee, running, reading and learning foreign languages.
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