February 1, 2020: Leviticus 19:1-18
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying:
2 Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. 3 You shall each revere your mother and father, and you shall keep my sabbaths: I am the Lord your God. 4 Do not turn to idols or make cast images for yourselves: I am the Lord your God.
5 When you offer a sacrifice of well-being to the Lord, offer it in such a way that it is acceptable in your behalf. 6 It shall be eaten on the same day you offer it, or on the next day; and anything left over until the third day shall be consumed in fire. 7 If it is eaten at all on the third day, it is an abomination; it will not be acceptable. 8 All who eat it shall be subject to punishment, because they have profaned what is holy to the Lord; and any such person shall be cut off from the people.
9 When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the Lord your God.
11 You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; and you shall not lie to one another. 12 And you shall not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God: I am the Lord.
13 You shall not defraud your neighbor; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a laborer until morning. 14 You shall not revile the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind; you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.
15 You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor. 16 You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the Lord.
17 You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
Question: Are these commands still relevant today? How do they form a basis of love?
Our readings for the month of February will focus on the theme of love. This passage from Leviticus is a statement of what we know as the Ten Commandments. How do these directives form the basis of love?
The pattern of this passage begins with God – moves towards others, beginning with our closest relationships (mothers, fathers) and expanding outward; then ends with love of self (in the healthiest ways possible).
Worshipping God and holding God as the only on worthy of worship is an expression of love.
Many , if not all, of the commandments deal with relationships with others – parents, neighbors, laborers, those who are deaf and blind, the poor and alien. I am always amazed at the breadth of individuals who are included in these admonitions. There is certainly a focus on those related – but there is also a looking outward to others as well, those who are not naturally part of our inner circle.
We cannot show love if we are stealing or withholding from others; we cannot love if we are not showing justice; we cannot love if we slander. These are such convicting words, aren’t they?
I believe these commands are highly relevant for today. Thinking only of slander, for example, I wonder how many of our social media posts would be considered slanderous? I wonder how many pre-judge others without knowing all the facts (or worse, knowing what we post is false or one-sided at best and posting anyway). If your social media page right now were to be wiped clean of any post that violated this single command, how much would remain?
How might we, in our day to day living, begin with love?
What about you?