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by Rosco Brong

Love in Practice
Leviticus 19:2, 9-18, 33-37

That all the commandments of God are summed up in the commandment to love is a great and precious truth not to be forgotten, neglected, or abandoned just because most of modem Christianity has lost the true meaning of love. The love of God expressed for us in His Son, described for us in His Word, required of us by His law, supplied for us by His grace, and imparted to us by His Spirit is something quite different from the sickly sentimental slush of fleshly folly faking faith to avoid obedience.

Genuine love is unselfish [I Corinthians 13:5; Matthew 5:43-48]. The love of God on His part cost Him the death of His Son [I John 3:16], and on our part "this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments" [I John 5:3].

Love makes faith work [Galatians 5:6]. This kind of love is not mere sentimental or feeling, but is a practical principle of life.

Scripture included in this lesson shows clearly that the command to love came as if new from the lips of Jesus only because the Old Testament commands had been perverted, obscured, and nul- lified by unfaithful religious leaders through their vain flesh-pleasing traditions.

For a brief outline of the lesson we may note:

1. Holiness, Leviticus 19:2.
2. Humanity, Leviticus 19:9-10.
3. Honesty, Leviticus 19:11-13.
4. Helpfulness, Leviticus 19:14-16.
5. Harmony, Leviticus 17-18, 33-34.
6. Heritage, Leviticus 19:35-37.


HOLINESS, Leviticus 19:2.
God's people are holy in position before Him and are commanded to be holy in practice. Both the Old and the New Testament give this command again and again. Without holiness "no man shall see the Lord" [Hebrews 12:14].

To be holy is to be set apart, especially to be set apart from all that is profane or evil. In the highest sense God Himself is holy, being set apart from all His creatures in the divine perfection of His attributes. God's holiness is absolute; ours is relative and dependent on Him. Nevertheless His people are set apart from the world by His grace toward them. When their conduct is no better than that of the world, they are not fit to be called His people. His holiness demands that His people be holy.

HUMANITY, Leviticus 19:9-10.
Love is practical. The "poor and stranger" need to be given opportunity to get food, but if they are able-bodied they ought to work for it. Modem welfareists aim to impoverish everybody by taking from the earnings of some to give to others who earn nothing.. God's way is better. The wealthy were required to leave the comers of their fields and the gleanings of their harvests and vineyards, but the "poor and stranger" were to do their own gathering.

If there is anything more cruel, more unloving, than withholding food from the hungry when we have the means of providing for them, it is to lead them to believe that they have a "right" to eat without working. If we all claim this "right," we can all enjoy it and all starve together.

HONESTY, Leviticus 19:11-13.
Love is honest. Dishonesty is essentially selfishness, a vain attempt to please and satisfy self at the expense of others by means of deception.

Stealing, dealing falsely, and lying are different means of accomplishing the same thing: taking for ourselves what rightfully belongs to someone else, whether it be material property or good name. Stealing a person's good name through slander can be worse than stealing his material possessions.

Verse 12 is based on the third commandment, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain" [Exodus 20:7]. Here are mentioned two kinds of sin in which men take God's name in vain: perjury and profanity. Note now the words: It} am the Lord." This declaration is repeated again and again, as if the mere reminder of Who God is should make us shirk from sin -- and so it will, if we know Him.

Fraud and robbery are but different means of taking wrongfully what belongs to someone else. Holding back wages due, even over night, is in effect the same thing as temporary robbery of that amount.

HELPFULNESS, Leviticus 19:14-16.
Negatively speaking, we ought not to hurt our neighbor; positively speaking, we ought to help him. The deaf and the blind are especially in need of help, and if we fear God we shall certainly do nothing to hurt them. Again the reminder that God is the Lord (Jehovah) reinforces the command.

Men who sit in judgment should judge righteously; there ought to be no prejudice either for or against the person judged, whether he be poor or mighty.

Talebearers generally cause trouble, and men can "stand against the blood" of their neighbors either by giving false testimony or by withholding testimony of! truth. God the Lord is looking on and listening in: let us help instead of hurt.

HARMONY, Leviticus 19:17-18, 33-34.
Love is practical but not hypocritical. There needs to be a harmony of inward intention and outward expression. Love in the heart does not permit sanction or tolerance of sin, but requires faithful rebuke where needed. Yet this does not mean that we can arrogate to ourselves the vengeance belonging to God, or that we carry a grudge against others any more than we would bear a grudge against ourselves.

Comparison of verse 33 and 34 with Matthew 5:43 makes evident what many commentators overlook: Jesus did not contradict Moses, but rather confirmed, extended, and fulfilled the ancient 1ruths of God's Word through Moses in opposition to the errors of rabbinic misinterpretations and traditions.

HERITAGE, Leviticus 19:35-37.
Once more let us note the repeated argument, even under the old covenant, why God's people should "do no unrighteousness": "I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt."

Even so, believers in Christ must remember Who God is, and who we are. Maybe we were never in Egypt, but we were in the bondage of sin and Satan. God is our heavenly Father Who loved us when we were still His enemies, and gave His Son to redeem us from that bondage [Romans 5:8]. Therefore: "How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" [Romans 6:2]

CONCLUSION [Luke 10:27]
Jesus told this lawyer that he had "answered right" in his summation of the divine law. Social gospelers vainly seek to reverse the order, putting their chief emphasis on what they think is love for our fellow man. It will not. it cannot work; human depravity will not let it work. We must learn to love God before we can learn to love others in the true sense of love.

[From Ashland Avenue Baptist paper, May 9, 1975, pp. 2-3. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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