There are some strange passages in the book of Leviticus and chapter 19 verse 9 seems odd to the untrained in scripture as it commands a farmer not to cut the corners of his field or the vinedresser to take all the grapes or produce from his vineyard.
Modern business practices often try to get every dime from what it produces and this would seem wise to many but the bible teaches something different to not only bless the farmer or business owner but to bless others.
The scripture on not cutting the corners and not gathering every last grain or grape was meant to be a working welfare system that provided for the poor that still allowed them the dignity of work as the remaining harvest was intended for them.
This system is seen played out in the book of Ruth as she works the fields to get food for herself and her mother in law without begging. Ruth, of course, is the grandmother to King David and a part of the line of Jesus.
But how can an old law in the book of Leviticus give us a biblical principle for success? The answer is found in the margins. We understand that the goal of any business is to earn a living for its owners and any employees it might have.
It is important to charge what you are worth but deciding when you are charging too much is just as important, just because you can make more money by itemizing or using cheaper materials doesn’t mean that is right.
Some companies have learned that when enough money is made it blesses their employees to share the surplus, others give back time, talent and treasure to the communities that helped them succeed and many have done both.
It can be difficult for a business to operate by this principle when times are tough and money is short but like tithing, it is worth doing.
The interesting thing about this passage and principle is that scripture does not say how big the corners should be in a given field. A farmer could leave but a few stocks of grain or vinedresser a few clusters of grapes or there could be enough to feed many families and allow the poor enough produce to get their own start in business.
The point is that generosity is something we determine for ourselves. It is also why socialist countries do not prosper because generosity is determined by the state not the heart of people trying to please God and love others.