And when you enter your neighbor’s field of grain, you may pluck the heads of grain with your hand, but you must not harvest it with a sickle.
This is a great chapter (Deut. 23) to illustrate the relevance of the Old Testament to New Testament believers. It gets pretty real. Not only do we have the verse about “nocturnal emission” above (v. 10), a verse which by using the adjective “ceremonially” invites us to think about a distinction in God’s law between ceremonial and moral; further, invites us to reflect on the distinction between sin and physicality, but also we can see in the present verse a principle which explicates the New Testament emphasis on love of neighbor (Matt. 22:39).
In our relationships, especially in the family of Christ (Gal. 6:10), we may glean from each other but not presume upon each other in ways that violate the other’s resources or possessions. This is true Christian communalism. The text assumes the validity of private property. Our land and produce belong neither to the state nor our neighbor. The fruit of our labor belongs to us, but we’d better not keep it all to ourselves!
Think about how this principle applies to all the relationships we have: my time and money are mine, but my neighbor is free to take a little of it. In loving my neighbor, I am not permitted to impose upon him or her, nor may they take advantage of me in that way.
What if we learned to practice love this way? We might actually come to enjoy sharing with others and be delivered from the fear of becoming a doormat, fear that, driven by a guilt-intuition makes us feel we must allow ourselves to be dominated by the requirements of love rather than freed by them.
I wonder how many godly wives and mothers could make use of this freeing principle, set forth in an “obscure” Old Testament text.