Love Thy Neighbor (Leviticus 19)

Leviticus 19 begins with a reminder of God’s holiness. God’s people are expected to reflect his image. There is something about God’s image that is common and shared across humanity. However, the image of holiness is not shared by all. The opening message of Leviticus 19 is that God’s true followers will reflect his image of his holiness—“You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.” (v. 2)

The chapter builds to how that holiness is to be reflected among people. Verses 9-35 describe the kind of life Israel was to live with each other among foreign people. All of these words can be summed up in one short phrase: Love your Neighbor!

Jesus said to love God and to love neighbor was to fulfill the entirety of the law. The Ten Commandments outline such a love. Leviticus 19 builds on that foundation.  What does it look like to love your neighbor?

Reflect on this summary from Leviticus 19:

  • Live generously towards the poor and alien (Lev. 19:9–10).
  • Do not steal from anyone (Lev. 19:11).
  • Do not be deceptive in dealings with people (Lev. 19:11).
  • Do not swear in God’s name (Lev. 19:12).
  • Do not oppress, rob, or exploit the poor by paying unfair wages (Lev. 19:13).
  • Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind (Lev. 19:14).
  • Do not be partial to the poor or show favor to the great but judge honestly (Lev. 19:15).
  • Do not commit financial fraud. (Lev. 19:16).
  • Do not hate your brother (Lev. 19:17).
  • Do not seek revenge or hold a grudge but extend forgiveness (Lev. 19:18).
  • Live sexually faithful (Lev. 19:20-22)
  • Take care of the place where you live (Lev. 19:23-25)
  • Take care of your body (Lev. 19:26-28)
  • Honor your daughters and your neighbors daughters (Lev. 19:29)
  • Rest together (Lev. 19:30)
  • Honor senior adults (Lev. 19:32)
  • Show mercy to strangers and refuges (Lev. 19:33)
  • Do business fairly (Lev. 19:34-35)

For Jesus, speaking to Jews shaped by the Torah, this is what loving your neighbor looked like. Can you imagine a world where people loved each other this way?

Generosity…Honesty…Sympathy…Equity…Mercy…that’s how we live as God’s witness in the world today.