Leave It

Carol Dowsett

by Carol Dowsett, AMiA Communications and member of All Saints Dallas

“When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. Leave it for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 23:22 NLT)

The message in this verse is so counter to the messages in our American culture. Our world calls us to live on the edge, to go the distance, grab it all. But God’s Word says leave space, have leftovers, share. Our culture urges us to not only consume all we have, but to wander into fields we might have in the future and take more from there (aka debt). But Scripture teaches us to use less than we have so we can participate with God in caring for others.

This applies not only to food, as in this passage, but to all of life: time, energy and attention, as well as money and things. We are not only to leave grain at the edges of our fields to feed the poor, but to take a weekly Sabbath so we have the energy to bear one another’s burdens and make space in our homes for the foreigner in our midst. In Psalm 23 we learn that God fills our cup to overflowing. Why? Why would he give us more than we could possibly need? Perhaps so others can enjoy the extra, not so we can slurp up the excess from the saucer.

A starting place in learning to do this is to recognize and acknowledge that the field we harvest isn’t ours to begin with. He gives some grain for us to have for our needs and some for us to have so we can experience the joy of giving to others. Like the mother who gives her young son a dollar to buy his sister a birthday gift, so God gives to us so we can give to others.

In Leviticus 23:22 God not only tells us what to do, but why to do it. It is a way we can imitate him. He says the reason to “Leave it for the poor and the foreigners living among you” is because “I am the Lord your God.” Our God is a giving God (think of John 3:16). As those made in his image, as those seeking to grow in the likeness of Christ, we give. We do not harvest the edges of our fields or pick up what the harvesters drop. We leave it.


To go more deeply into the theology of giving, wallow around in Miroslav Volf’s insights in his book Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace.

Carol Dowsett served with her husband, Jim, as missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators for more than 25 years, living in Nairobi, Kenya for three years. She led international corporate communications with the mission for over 10 years. After retiring from Wycliffe, Carol worked with Bible League International and Christar U.S. before starting Habari Communications to provide communication services for faith-based nonprofits. Carol assists with AMiA communication efforts and attends All Saints Dallas, where she is active in discipleship and prayer ministries. Carol and Jim have four adult children and six grand-darlings.