Deuteronomy 15

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Read Deuteronomy 15

The Year for Canceling Debts

15 At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. This is how it is to be done: Every creditor shall cancel any loan they have made to a fellow Israelite. They shall not require payment from anyone among their own people, because the Lord’s time for canceling debts has been proclaimed.You may require payment from a foreigner, but you must cancel any debt your fellow Israelite owes you. However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the Lordyour God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today.For the Lord your God will bless you as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. You will rule over many nations but none will rule over you.

If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfistedtoward them. Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need. Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: “The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near,” so that you do not show ill will toward the needy among your fellow Israelites and give them nothing. They may then appeal to the Lord against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. 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.

Freeing Servants

12 If any of your people—Hebrew men or women—sell themselves to you and serve you six years, in the seventh year you must let them go free. 13 And when you release them, do not send them away empty-handed. 14 Supply them liberally from your flock, your threshing floor and your winepress. Give to them as the Lord your God has blessed you. 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you. That is why I give you this command today.

16 But if your servant says to you, “I do not want to leave you,” because he loves you and your family and is well off with you, 17 then take an awl and push it through his earlobe into the door, and he will become your servant for life. Do the same for your female servant.

18 Do not consider it a hardship to set your servant free, because their service to you these six years has been worth twice as much as that of a hired hand. And the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do.

The Firstborn Animals

19 Set apart for the Lord your God every firstborn male of your herds and flocks. Do not put the firstborn of your cows to work, and do not shear the firstborn of your sheep. 20 Each year you and your family are to eat them in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose. 21 If an animal has a defect, is lame or blind, or has any serious flaw, you must not sacrifice it to the Lord your God. 22 You are to eat it in your own towns. Both the ceremonially unclean and the clean may eat it, as if it were gazelle or deer. 23 But you must not eat the blood; pour it out on the ground like water.

Go Deeper

In Deuteronomy 15, as in the last few chapters, Moses continues to lay out how to live a life of worship and lovingly takes the time to elaborate specifically how the new generation of Israel can follow God’s will, particularly regarding money. Even when we have the best of intentions, greed is a common temptation among humanity. In this chapter, Moses addresses some temptations regarding generosity. 

First, he acknowledges it is easy to give when we know we may receive something back whether monetarily, socially, emotionally, or through another form of compensation. Moses addresses the Israelites’ temptation to avoid giving right before the seventh year begins, the year when debts are canceled. What God wants His people to do is give even when we think we will receive nothing in return. Moses tells God’s people to give and to lend even when they know a debt will be canceled.  

Moses also addresses the temptation to give with a grudging heart. God cares about the heart! He wants the actions but desires the heart more. During his discussion of canceling debts, Moses points out that the mindset of generosity is just as important as the act itself. He says to give (action) and give gladly (mindset). Do not be tightfisted (action) and hardhearted (mindset). First Samuel 16:7 tells us, “The Lord does not look at the things people look at…the Lord looks at the heart.” God is not concerned with how successful we appear to the world. He cares about how we treat others and that we do so generously. Treating the poor well is not a suggestion. It is a command: “Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land” (v. 11). 

Moses was purposefully vague in his instruction on how to actually be generous. Being “open-handed” can look different to different people. There are so many ways for us to be generous! Yet, our very efforts to give generously and without expecting a return on our investment is part of what sets apart the people of God. These lessons are difficult and don’t reflect the social norm to be tight-fisted. It’s not even natural to our survival instincts. Most people believe having enough money will keep them safe or make them happy. Their faith is in their finances. However, we have the repetitive reassurance in Scripture that loving the poor holds a special place of importance with our God. When we love them, we love Him. 


  1. How freely are we able to give when we think of our insurmountable debt that Jesus paid on our behalf? 
  2. Do you struggle more with the action or the mindset of generous giving?
  3. Where else does the Bible talk about caring for the poor? Read Matthew 25:37-40. What is your response to Jesus’ words?

By the Way

Deuteronomy 15:11 is reminiscent of the call to care for fellow believers in Galatians 6:10:

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

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5 thoughts on “Deuteronomy 15”

  1. When we grasp that our debt has been cancelled, and we have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, it should drive us to live open-handed & generously. How we choose to live out our days reveals our understanding of just how much we’ve been granted in Christ. It should drive us to prayer, worship and repentance. In recent days the attention of the world has been drawn to what is taking place at Asbury college. I listened last night as Jennie Allen shared stories and called for prayer for revival to break out across America & the world. One of the prayers shared was “God, please do not pass us by.” I’m humbled as I read Deuteronomy and checking my mindset, where do I need to repent?

      1. Christi, do you remember the beloved hymn “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior” by Fanny Crosby? Here are some of the verses:
        “Let me at Thy throne of mercy, find a sweet relief;
        Kneeling there in deep contrition, help my unbelief.
        Trusting only in Thy merit, would I seek Thy face;
        Heal my wounded broken spirit, save me by Thy grace.”
        “Savior, Savior, hear my humble cry;
        While on others Thou art calling, do not pass me by.”

  2. In Matthew 25 we are to see others with God’s love goggles on, that is what I think this means. Every person you come in contact with has the potential or is a believer in Christ whether they speak about Him or not. My deal is the grudging heart part. I happily give when it is convenient for me. This last week I have had to renew my mind almost in a minute by minute timeframe. Somebody, someway ruffled my feathers about something. AARGG!!! I am reading about forgiveness in 2 TWO did I mention TWO!! different books plus the Bible. Hum, I know the Holy spirit is yelling at me LOL. God so loved us, Jesus so loved His Father and us that He willing died for us. I need to come to the place of just a little dust from on offence the other parties most likely know nothing is wrong, just me and pride, self righteousness or wanting someone to be my people pleaser. Next step is repentance from them and to ask God for forgiveness for me for such pettiness. Deut 15 is about a debt being cancelled and Jesus cancelled my debt then please forgive me. BUT GOD Eph 2:4 being rich in mercy…

    God thank You for Your mercy that it is new every morning. Thank You for the great love with which You loved me, even when I was dead in my trespasses, You made me alive together with Christ—by grace I have been saved—You raised me up with him and seated me with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward me in Christ Jesus. For by grace I have been saved through faith. And this is not of my own doing; it is the gift of God,( Eph 2:4-8). God help me to not see myself. Help me to see others. Continue to show me others through Your love goggles and give me Your wisdom and understanding. Direct my paths today minute by minute in Jesus name amen.

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