The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Leviticus 19:34
Everything felt drastically different in their new country—new language, schools, customs, traffic, and weather. They wondered how they would ever adjust. People from a nearby church gathered around them to help them in their new life in a new land. Patti took the couple shopping at a local food market to show them what’s available and how to purchase items. As they wandered around the market, their eyes widened and they smiled broadly when they saw their favorite fruit from their homeland—pomegranates. They bought one for each of their children and even placed one in Patti’s hands in gratefulness. The small fruit and new friends brought big comfort in their strange, new land.
God, through Moses, gave a list of laws for His people, which included a command to treat foreigners among them “as your native-born” (Leviticus 19:34). “Love them as yourself,” God further commanded. Jesus called this the second greatest commandment after loving God (Matthew 22:39). For even God “watches over the foreigner” (Psalm 146:9).
Besides obeying God as we help new friends adapt to life in our country, we may be reminded that we too in a real sense are “strangers on earth” (Hebrews 11:13). And we’ll grow in our anticipation of the new heavenly land to come.
Who might God want you to look after? In what ways has He gifted you to spread His love to others?
Compassionate God, I understand a little what it feels like to be a stranger in this world. Lead me to be an encourager of other foreigners and strangers.
For further study, read
Walk with Me: Travelling with Jesus and Others on Life’s Road.
The commandments found in Leviticus 19 are rooted in the calling of God’s people to be holy like God (Leviticus 19:2). This chapter reveals that being a holy people—set apart and devoted to God—includes being devoted to justice for the poor and marginalized (vv. 9–10, 13–16, 33–34). Pursuing justice is a way of loving our neighbor, and love for God and neighbor is at the heart of God’s law (Matthew 22:37–40).
Leviticus 19 emphasizes that the “neighbor” who Israel was called to love included foreign residents. They were called to treat foreigners with justice as if they were “native-born” (v. 34). They were to “love them as [themselves], for [they] were foreigners in Egypt” (v. 34). Treating outsiders with compassion and justice is commanded repeatedly in Scripture, often connected to the Israelites’ own experience of being exploited while in a foreign land (Exodus 22:21; 23:9; Deuteronomy 24:17–18).