Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Much of our Old Testament passage from Leviticus 19 is summed up in verse 18b. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The passage talks about what we might call civil righteousness. Yet in our current, generally secularized culture, I think it’s important that we note the justification God gives for these kind actions. Again and again it says, “I am the LORD.” The motivation for the people of God to do good to their neighbors is that God is the one who cares for people. He is the God who feeds the hungry. He is the God who tells the truth. He is the God who keeps people from needless harm. He is the God who is straightforward about what is sin and what is righteousness.
In the final analysis, it’s important that we practice love for our neighbor according to God’s commands. If we accept this as a biblical principle, we need to be carrying it out using other principles from God’s Word. And He speaks clearly about a lot of pragmatic things.
How do we feed the hungry? We do it by leaving opportunity for poor and dispossessed people to work and get food. We make sure they do have opportunity by purposely not using all that is ours for our profit. This is the primary means of feeding the poor. It isn’t by gathering all that we have and giving it to a central location for redistribution. It’s by allowing the poor to have opportunity to gain.
What about theft and dishonesty? Our honesty is rooted in the nature of God who is always honest. He is the one who understands truth claims. He is also the one who knows how we have represented the truth. As the final judge, we act in accord with his truth.
What about wage equity? When we have made a promise to pay someone for something we don’t withhold it. This doesn’t mean that everyone gets the same amount. It allows for some freedom. But it also means that work gets its fair pay without haggling, without deceit. Is it all right to cheat someone who wouldn’t know better? Not at all. Those people who are unable to guard themselves receive your care. Likewise, in court, we tell the truth.
May the God of truth guide our hearts and minds as we seek to love our neighbor as ourselves.
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