Shirley settled into her recliner after a long day. She looked out the window and noticed an older couple struggling to move a section of old fence left in a yard and labeled “free.” Shirley grabbed her husband, and they headed out the door to help. The four of them wrestled the fence onto a dolly and pushed it up the city street and around the corner to the couple’s home—laughing all the way at the spectacle they must be. As they returned to get a second section of fence, the woman asked Shirley, “You be my friend?” “Yes, I will,” she replied. Shirley later learned that her new Vietnamese friend knew little English and was lonely because her grown children had moved hours away.
In Leviticus, God reminded the Israelites that they knew how it felt to be strangers (19:34) and how to treat others (vv. 9–18). God had set them apart to be His own nation, and in return they were to bless their “neighbors” by loving them as themselves. Jesus, the greatest blessing from God to the nations, later restated His Father’s words and extended them to us all: “Love the Lord your God . . . . Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37–39).
Through Christ’s Spirit living in us, we can love God and others because He loved us first (Galatians 5:22–23; 1 John 4:19). Can we say with Shirley, “Yes, I will”?
How have you been cared for by someone when you felt alone? Who can you reach out to this week to show the love of Jesus?
The command to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18) is found in a chapter containing a variety of rules for godly living that many scholars consider a counterpart of the Ten Commandments. Leviticus 19:18, like the tenth commandment (Exodus 20:17), is about responsibility toward one’s neighbor. But it goes a step further by saying our care for others includes love, which extends not only to members of the believing community but also to “foreigners” (Leviticus 19:34). Jesus quoted this golden rule as an extension of our love for God: “The most important [commandment] . . . [is to] love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ ” (Mark 12:29–31).