Tuesday 16 July 2013

Bible Book:

Leviticus 19:11-18 Tuesday 16 July 2013


Encouraging and exploring what it means to be holy continues tobe the focus of this chapter. The priestly compliers of theseinstructions were well aware of the damaged caused by a lack ofhonesty, openness and integrity. This is what these rules seek toguard against. A community in which things are not as they appearis difficult to negotiate and live it. Trust falters. A communityin which people say one thing but mean another, or shape theirwords to win themselves favour, is unsustainable. Things fallapart.

This set of teachings is once again concerned with those who areless able to defend themselves. In a section on slander and lies,it calls specific attention to the sin of cursing or verballyabusing those who cannot hear. The deafmay not know to respond toangry, harmful words, but, the reader is warned, God will know andact in judgement. This is very much in line with the wider biblicalnarrative which tells of a God whose ear and heart are inclinedtowards the oppressed and marginalised. For this reason, theinstruction to show no partiality in the courtroom jars slightly.But here the text remains consistent - nothing should prevent thetruth being told, neither need nor privilege.  Even so,justice must always be contextual, and so the text promptsquestions about how justice might flourish in each differentcircumstance.

The command to love your neighbour as yourself is a familiar oneto both Jewish and Christian readers. On various occasions it isused to sum up the law, as the necessary compliment to the commandto love God. Yet, the idea that to love your neighbour mightinvolve rebuking them is fraught with problems. We would oftenrather keep quiet and not risk falling out with our neighbours(especially those with which we share fences, lifts or corridors).How can we be sure that our criticism comes from love and not envy,fear or a sense of self-righteousness? But the teaching reminds usthat not reproving means not caring. For the community of faith tofunction, all must seek to live rightly before God and their fellowhumans. And when they fail to do so, the response is not to claimrighteousness over one's neighbour but to continue to love them andwatch out for them.

To Ponder

  • Why do you think it is hard to be truly honest with ourselvesand with others?
  • What might it mean today to profit from some else's blood(verse 16)?
  • Can you think of a time when you were able to let go of agrudge? What helped you to do so?
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