We often use the second definition for this word in modern society, but we get the original word itself from the first definition, which refers to the practice of gleaning as exercised by the Israelites in the Old Testament.
Leviticus 19:9-10 “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. It is the same with your grape crop—do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God."
This practice, ordained in Leviticus and Deuteronomy and mentioned in just a handful of verses in Scripture, actually had a huge impact on Israelite society.
In fact, it was through the practice of gleaning that Ruth and Noami were provided for after their husbands had died. This provision for Ruth led to her becoming a direct ancestor to Jesus himself.
Without this way that generosity was baked into the Israelite's daily economic activity, we would be missing an entire book of Scripture and there would be only four women mentioned in Christ's genealogy rather than five.
So what can we learn from gleaning today? Not many of us are farmers now, but we all engage in some sort of economic activity daily, whether buying or purchasing.
In gleaning, we see a model God created so that when he provided for Israelite landowners, that provision would automatically overflow to those less fortunate. A good harvest wouldn't just be good for the landowner, it was also good for the poor and needy among them.
So the question is, have we embedded generosity similarly into our lives? When God blesses us, are others blessed? When we engage in basic, everyday economic activity, are we also outpouring from what God blesses us with?
Here at Sixpence, this model is a key influence on our creation of TitheConnect and Roundup Giving. What are some ways you've similarly embedded generosity into your life?