Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord. — Leviticus 19:18
Growing up, I lived with my family in a neighborhood that included a locally owned store called Lou’s Market. Across the street from the market was a large sign advertising the business. One day, as a grade-school child, I decided to play with the sign. After a time, Lou stormed out of the store, hollered at me, and made motions with his arms. Although I could not hear his words, my young brain translated a clear message: Get away from the sign!
However, a busy street stood between us, so I continued playing with the metal sign by swinging it back and forth on its steel posts. I noticed that Lou was now talking to a man in a black car and pointing at me. Soon both of them motioned dramatically to me with the same cease-and-desist message. Shortly, the man in the black car raced around the block so he could park near where I was. At this, I ran away from the sign. The man followed in his black car but, because I was cutting through neighbor yards, he lost track of me. Just as I was nearing home, the man in his black car swung around a corner. I quickly ran through two more yards and into the safety of my own.
Clearly, I was in the wrong. The sign belonged to Lou and he had a right to demand respect for it. Yet, one could also question Lou’s reaction. After all, I was only a child and my playing with the sign had not been malicious in any way. The truth was, neither of us was exemplifying love for our neighbor, as is commanded in today’s focus verse.
The message in this verse, however, goes far beyond just dealing in a charitable manner with those who live near us. It is indicative of a much broader principle that was reiterated by Christ in His Sermon on the Mount: we are to treat all men with fairness, respect, and true brotherly love.
God is concerned for the welfare of each individual, and we are called to reflect His attitude toward those around us. May God help us to be good “neighbors” to everyone whose lives touch ours!
Throughout this chapter, God emphasizes His position in relation to the Israelites. In verse 4 and others, He says, “I am the Lord your God.” (This last phrase is repeated over 40 times in chapters 18 — 26.) Further into the chapter, He shortens the point to, “I am the Lord,” and repeats this more than once. God was reminding the people of His identity and His final authority on all matters.
The theme of holiness that runs through this chapter is based on the fact that God is holy. God wanted the people to follow Him and be separate from the heathen nations around them. He clearly showed how the high order to holiness was completely supported by real, daily actions.
It is interesting to note that many of the verses in this chapter expand on the Ten Commandments. Three of the Commandments are mentioned in verses 3-4.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The way of fellowship with God
A. By separation unto holiness
1. The holiness of the people
c. Social equity (19:1-37)
(1) The foundation (19:1-8)
(2) Care of the poor (19:9-10)
(3) Avoid stealing and lying (19:11-12)
(4) Avoid oppression (19:13-14)
(5) Avoid unjust judgment (19:15-16)
(6) Love your neighbor (19:17-18)
(7) Various other regulations (19:19-37)
Our neighbors — both those next door and, more broadly, anyone whose lives touch ours — are our own personal mission field. Let us view every interaction with our neighbors as an opportunity to demonstrate God’s love!