In Leviticus 19 we find the origin of ‘love your neighbour as yourself’. The fullness of meaning of ‘holy living’ can be discovered here as we realise it is not only a private individual pursuit, but is traced in social relationships; ‘holiness’ is not just inward, but outward; ‘holiness’ was the mark of a community, and not just the individual. In order for a healthy society to function as God intended the family and the church are to play a crucial part, hence the people are reminded to honour their parents and honour the Sabbath. Idols are to be repudiated. Israel should not need to make images of God, because they were made in His image, and in the fulfilment of these laws resembled His character. The poor were to be remembered and provided for in this community. Holiness was to involve generosity. We read about friendship that should be marked with integrity, justice, love and absence of exploitation. Respect for others was to include the disabled, the elderly, business associates in the marketplace and immigrants. In all of this the Israelites were reminded of the slavery they had been delivered from, the ‘sojourners’ they had been in the desert, and of course the God who rescued them. ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ in this context is not carried out by the Israelites legalistically, but in response to God’s love and grace in their lives. Pray that God would reveal a deeper meaning of ‘holy living’ to you today, and that your own pursuit of it would flow outward from God’s love and grace in your life.
Leviticus 19: Holiness and Community
1st October 2015