Margins are not just that fussy space before and after each line of typing that old-school english teachers measure to determine whether or not to fail you. Margins are boundaries that allow for a healthy life.
If you have ever played outfield and been running backwards trying to catch the fly ball, you know how wonderful that warning track of dirt is. If you have never really played baseball, a warning track is a strip around the perimeter of the outfield where grass changes to dirt before you slam into the fence/wall. In Little League, this is what kept you from having your midsection impaled upon the chain link fence.
In driving, the shoulders serve in much the same way. Every once in a while you veer out of the lines, and the rumble strip informs you that you are about to go off-roading.
In the Old Testament, the Jews were informed that they were to have margins in their fields. They were not to harvest all the way to the edges and corners intentionally. Now this was their field, their crop, the fruits of their labor, but they were not to harvest it (yeah, I know that all the Land belonged to God, and the Jews were tenant-farmers, but you get the point). This was for several reasons:
1. Widows and orphans needed to eat, but didn’t own land. They had no capacity to earn a living at that time (except of course for prostitution – an unsavory option to say the least). This was where their food would come from. They would have to harvest it, thresh it, winnow it and grind it – but they could eat.
2. Foreigners. God didn’t want the Israelites to ever forget that He had saved them from slavery. That they had been the foreigners, and so they were to treat foreigners in their midst – immigrants, with kindness. This food was for them as well.
3. Wild animals. It’s true, God is the first environmentalist – not to mention the best. take away wild land and farm it, but make sure that you leave food for the animals to be able to thrive not just survive, for God made them on the sixth day as well as us.
Margins for being a blessing. Most of us today are not farmers – though if you are anything like me you are constantly trying to find ways to return to the land from whence you came – we instead earn money. Take the principle of the margins in the OT and apply it to your monthly budget. If you are budgeting all the way to the edge, you are edging out all the blessing God wants you to participate in. Remember that it truly is better to give than to receive.
Leave margins in your schedule so that you can stop and talk with the lonely person that crosses your path, or help out the stranded motorist along the highway. If your checkbook and calendar have no margins, you are living a “stress-full”, “blessing-less” life.