In Leviticus 19:9-18, God tells his people how they are supposed to love their neighbor. I encourage you to read it some time. However, chapter 19 begins with these two verses: “And the Lord called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying, 2. Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the Lord, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock. Lord your God, am holy.”
These verses come from the portion of scripture known as the Holiness Code. The Holiness Code is found in Leviticus; it’s in chapters 17-26.
Some people think of the book of Leviticus is the code of standards, for the priests of Israel. However, this portion of Leviticus is spoken to the people of Israel, and not just the priests. As I just read, God said to Moses in verse 2: “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel.”
The message is; “You shall be holy; for your God is holy.” The rest of the verses give a description of what this would look like in the people’s daily lives. God wanted honesty on every level, integrity of every kind and no partiality shown towards anyone.
This kindness is supposed to extend to the poor and the disadvantaged … too everyone. It doesn’t matter if you are rich and powerful or poor and powerless. The ultimate goal of holy living was to reflect the holiness and the goodness of God. That was why God choose the Children of Israel to be his Chosen people. It wasn’t that he loved them more than other people, it was because he wanted to reflect his holiness and goodness to the world through them.
That has not changed. God still wants to reflect his holiness and goodness through God’s people today. And that is the mission of the Church in the world today. We are supposed to let God express himself to the world through us, through our daily lives. Here, the people served and their service was supposed to be testimony to the world. This was supposed to show the world about the wonderfulness of God, the one and only God.
As I said, God’s desire was to express himself to the world, through his people. And that desire has not changed. It’s only his people who have changed. Here it was the Children of Israel. Today it’s us, we Christians who make up the Church, which is the body of Christ in the world today.
Here in Leviticus 19, God cautions us against hoarding and our inclination to over consume. We are supposed to leave some of what we have for those who need it more than we do. Here he is talking to a people whose very culture was based on agriculture.
However, our culture is not, so how are we to leave a portion of our harvest for the poor?
Well, we may do this by tithes and offerings to our churches or contributions to charities. We can give our time and energy to those organizations that strive to help those who need it most. But it’s not just about money, the principal of tithing just says 10%, it does not mention 10% of your money. God’s says give me 10%. That means 10% of our resources. That means 10% of your time also.
Just think about what a better world this would be if everyone gave God 10% of their time. Think about that.
You know, sometimes the wisdom of God simply astounds me.
We can also try to be fair in all our dealings, this means not driving too hard of a bargain with our neighbors and treating those who work for us fairly. As I said, here in Leviticus, God reminds us that we are not to “reap to the very edges of our field.” For us living here and now, this could mean to very edges of our means.
These verses also echo other words we have heard, and not just in Leviticus. We’ve read them in Exodus and Deuteronomy as well. We read that we are not supposed to steal, deal falsely with each other and we are not supposed to swear in God’s name.
When I read these ,it never ceases to amaze me just how simple and easy these laws are. Notice if these instructions where followed how much better our relationships with other people would be and also notice how they would protect the weak.
As I said, sometimes the wisdom of God just amazes me. It’s so simple, so clear the wisdom revealed in his law is astounding. The simple truth is, if these laws were followed by everyone, this world would truly be a better place. However as simple as it is, most of humanity chooses not to follow God’s law. We humans just mess it up.
Now, you might ask why is it so important to try to keep these laws. After all, we are Christians; God has forgiven our sins; and yes, you’d be right. But because God forgave your sins and saved you, you are now his chosen people. As his people in the world, God should be expressing himself through to those in the world who still do not know or believe in him.
Chuck Ladd is pastor of Kuttawa Methodist Church. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of this newspaper.