At the end of every third year, gather the tithe from all your produce of that year and put it aside in storage. Keep it in reserve for the Levite who won’t get any property or inheritance as you will, and for the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow who live in your neighborhood. That way they’ll have plenty to eat and God, your God, will bless you in all your work. Deuteronomy 14:28-29 (MSG)
God’s Message talks more about economics than you might think. I’ve come to realize that there is a system that I like to call God’s economy. In the economic system of God’s kingdom each and every individual is called upon to personally set aside provision from their regular income that he/she will then give away to bless those who are less fortunate or in need. The thing that I appreciate about God’s economic system is that it applied to everyone across the board. Those who were more fortunate had larger portions to set aside and share, but even those with little income were responsible to use a portion of whatever small amount they were given to give to others. Everyone participated and the local community benefited.
Somewhere along the way we lost touch with the personal responsibility and management piece and handed it over to our representative government. The government takes it before we even receive our paycheck and so we lose sight and touch with how much of our income is even taken from us to feed the system. The government handles all of the distribution so we lose touch with any personal responsibility for managing it nor do the vast majority of us get the blessing of actually giving it to a person who needs it. Not all who produce share in the responsibility of giving to those in need and who gives what becomes a quagmire of political machinations.
Certainly, we all have the opportunity to save, tithe, and give above and beyond what we are taxed. I get that. The thing that I find really sad is that God’s economy was set up to build individual character along with building up the local community. Neighbors provided for neighbors. There was local accountability and local blessing. There were deep spiritual lessons and the development of maturity that came from the personal responsibility required of each and every person to manage and give away a portion of their income to family, friends, neighbors and strangers in their community who were in need.
I understand that this still happens to varying degrees on a small scale, but I find it sad that our economic system has strayed far from the economic system God prescribed. I believe it has happened to the detriment of ourselves, our communities and our society as a whole.