When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 23:22 (NIV)
If you ever read the financial papers or hear financial news you will be aware just how important profit is within the world of business. Companies are judged on how profitable they are and investors either buy or sell shares dependent upon profitability.
The Bible gives us a different perspective on profit and the seeking after gain. In Leviticus, the analogy is used of a farmer reaping the harvest and being encouraged to leave part of the crop unharvested. Surely it would have been better for the farmer to maximise his profit? Remember that God’s perspective and man’s is quite different. Of course as the field belongs to the farmer they could have harvested the whole field. They could then have given some of the grain to the poor. So why did God suggest that part of the field is left unharvested?
God knows human nature. He knows that once harvested it would probably be even more difficult for the farmer to give away part of the harvest. Having expended energy (or money) in harvesting the crop, the farmer would most likely be less inclined to be generous. I think also that God knows the character of those who receive charity. There is an inherent pride in man that often prevents them from accepting charity. By leaving part of the harvest, this gave the poor and foreigners the opportunity to put their own energy into harvesting it. God knew this would provide for their needs, both emotionally and physically.
Returning to the world of business, many companies have mechanisms in place to give part of their profits back to society by supporting charities. This is to be commended, not because it eases the conscience of those running these companies, but because God knows there is a better way than the pursuit of profit above all else.
Thinking about profit, another Bible verse comes to mind:
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Mark 8:36 (NKJV)
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