God’s Renewing Word of Love
Leviticus 19:1-18: The book of Leviticus contains regulations for worship and religious ceremonies in ancient Israel and for the priests who were responsible for carrying out these instructions. The main theme of the book is the holiness of God and the ways in which the people were to worship and live. Today’s reading is from a section in Leviticus that focuses on moral and religious laws and how the people of Israel are to live together as God’s holy people. They must put God first, work for justice, and treat others with honesty and respect.
Laws of Holiness and Justice
1The Lord told Moses 2 to say to the community of Israel, “Be holy, because I, the Lord your God, am holy. 3 Each of you must respect your mother and your father, and must keep the Sabbath, as I have commanded. I am the Lord your God.
4 “Do not abandon me and worship idols; do not make gods of metal and worship them. I am the Lord your God.
5“When you kill an animal for a fellowship offering, keep the regulations that I have given you, and I will accept the offering. 6The meat must be eaten on the day the animal is killed or on the next day. Any meat left on the third day must be burned, 7because it is ritually unclean, and if anyone eats it, I will not accept the offering. 8Any who eat it will be guilty of treating as ordinary what is dedicated to me, and they will no longer be considered my people.
9 “When you harvest your fields, do not cut the grain at the edges of the fields, and do not go back to cut the heads of grain that were left. 10Do not go back through your vineyard to gather the grapes that were missed or to pick up the grapes that have fallen; leave them for poor people and foreigners. I am the Lord your God.
11 “Do not steal or cheat or lie. 12 Do not make a promise in my name if you do not intend to keep it; that brings disgrace on my name. I am the Lord your God.
13 “Do not rob or take advantage of anyone. Do not hold back the wages of someone you have hired, not even for one night. 14 Do not curse the deaf or put something in front of the blind so as to make them stumble over it. Obey me; I am the Lord your God.
15 “Be honest and just when you make decisions in legal cases; do not show favoritism to the poor or fear the rich. 16Do not spread lies about anyone, and when someone is on trial for his life, speak out if your testimony can help him. I am the Lord.
17 “Do not bear a grudge against others, but settle your differences with them, so that you will not commit a sin because of them. 18 Do not take revenge on others or continue to hate them, but love your neighbors as you love yourself. I am the Lord.
Today’s Key Verse: Leviticus 19:18
[The LORD said:] “Do not take revenge on others or continue to hate them, but love your neighbors as you love yourself. I am the LORD.”
You may wish to compare today’s reading with the commandments outlined in Exodus 20:1-17 and note their similarities. Being a holy people meant putting God first, working for justice, treating others with honesty and respect, and showing love to their neighbors. Are these commandments relevant for today? How can you apply them in your own life?
Lord God, teach me to be one of your holy people. Keep me grounded in your teachings so that I may reflect your love to neighbors near and far and live and serve with justice. Amen.
Deuteronomy 6:1-9: Moses reminds the Israelites of the Great Commandment.