Have you ever had the opportunity to take advantage of a great deal or had someone bring you an opportunity that you just couldn't pass up? Everyone loves a great deal. I am especially fond of them. I (which I understand is not the case for most men) love to shop. For me it is the thrill of the hunt. I revel in being able to find the best deal possible on anything. I have helped my wife, sister, sister-in-laws, friends, other relatives and even pointed out ways for strangers, to save a buck or two. It is why much of the marketing we see today, whether on TV, radio, or in print screams to consumers that if they don't act fast the will miss the deal of a lifetime. It cracks me up when infomercials claim at the end of their spot that if you order in the next 20 min you will receive a bonus. It's just a gimmick to get you to call quickly to take advantage of it. They don't know if it has been 20 min or not and you can get the same deal no matter when you call or if you just find it online.
You may be asking, where are you going with this and how does it relate to today's reading from the Old Testament? Well much of today's reading deals with people taking advantage in a much different way - it's addressing issues related to people taking advantage of other people.
Deuteronomy 23:19 - Do not charge your brother interest
Deuteronomy 15:10-11 - 10 Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. 11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.
Leviticus 19:35 - Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity.
Deuteronomy 25:16 - For the Lord your God detests...anyone who deals dishonestly.
Deuteronomy 24:14-15 - 14 Do not take advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether that worker is a fellow Israelite or a foreigner residing in one of your towns. 15 Pay them their wages each day before sunset, because they are poor and are counting on it. Otherwise they may cry to the Lord against you, and you will be guilty of sin.
And this is only a sampling from our reading, but as you continued to read today there was certainly a dominant theme that ran through it saying "don't take advantage of your brother". God did not want his people to be a selfish people who looked for every angle and tried to squeeze as much from their brothers as they could.
He wanted them to be generous, loving and caring for one another. He wanted them to be different than the world around them. He wanted them to be a people who lived lives that represented the love of God to a world that needed to see and hear it.
Likewise we are to live this way. We too need to be conscious of those brothers and sisters in our own community and we need to look for ways that we can be generous with our finances, generous with our time, generous with our resources instead of looking for ways to take advantage of the situation.
How can you flip the tables on situations you may be faced with this week and turn them into situations of generosity instead of situations of selfishness.