Holiness – the things you do: Leviticus 19

562954687_f114cddd98Today’s reading: Leviticus 19-21.

“Be holy, as I am holy,” says the LORD. By this he means doing the right things, as well as avoiding the forbidden acts. For the past few chapters we’ve read about some of those prohibited things, but today God shows us that a life well lived involves pursuing positive actions that help others and protect the disadvantaged.

  • respect your parents; respect the elderly
  • provide for the poor and the foreigner
  • be honest, be just, and don’t show favoritism
  • be fair to your employees
  • be kind to the disabled
  • love your neighbor as yourself

The reason we should do all these things? “I am the LORD.” God reminds us that we are accountable to him. “I am the LORD.” He made us in his image; we should act like him. “I am the LORD.” These people – our parents, our elders, the poor, the foreigner, the disabled, our neighbors – are God’s children just like us. “I am the LORD.” Our actions count for eternity, not just for this moment. “I am the LORD.” All other motivations vanish in comparison.

Some tongues need a bridle rather than a spur. Many glory in pulling down their brethren, as if thereby they raised themselves. Noah’s wise sons cast a mantle over their father, and he who exposed him earned a fearful curse. We may ourselves one of these dark days need forbearance and silence from our brethren, let us render it cheerfully to those who require it now. Be this our family rule, and our personal bond–Speak evil of no man. Charles Spurgeon

“Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”  “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”   Mark 12:28-31

This text commands the younger ones among us not to stride presumptuously and carelessly into the presence of an older person as though we were crossing no gap — as though we and they were simply peers with no special respect and honor to be shown to them. “You shall rise up before the grey head; you shall show honor to face of an old person.” How? Respectful postures. Respectful forms of address. Respectful deference in sitting and standing. Respectful clothing. These are not just arbitrary, old fashioned manners and customs. The text says, “Honor the face of an old man, and fear your God.” Customs of respect and deference to older people are rooted in God and the fear of God. And the loss of these manners of respect from babyboomers and teenagers is directly related to their small view of God and the contemporary foreignness of the idea of the fear of  God. If God has become a buddy, you can hardly expect people to stand when an old man enters the room. John Piper

Image by Amanda Westmont on Flickr, CC by-nc-sa 2.0