Text: Leviticus 19:9-18

We are familiar with the two great commandments of love – “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mk. 12:30-31) The second commandment to love our neighbour was originally found in Leviticus 19:18. In the preceding verses, God was instructing the children of Israel how they may conduct themselves with love towards fellow men when they begin to live in the land. What are some things which believers must take note if they are to love their neighbour?

Have Compassion on the Needy (v.9-10)
The Israelites must remember that the LORD is Israel’s God and the land belongs to Him. Thus, the produce of the land was meant to be used for the Lord’s glory. The focus should not be on the physical and maximising profits and efficiency. Thus, the children of Israel were forbidden to reap their harvest completely. They were to leave something behind as provision for the poor and needy. Gleanings were to be left on the ground. The teaching is that of compassion to fellow men who are in need. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, we saw how the Samaritan had compassion upon the Jew that was gravely injured by the wayside. This Jew is traditionally considered to be the enemy of the Samaritan. Will we also have compassion upon those who regard us as enemies?

Honesty is Always the Policy (v.11 -12)
The nations of the world often adopt such nefarious tactics to enrich their pockets. However, Israel is not like the other nations. As a spiritual witness, she must not allow corruption to be named among her. She must be holy as the LORD is holy. Thus, the children of Israel must not be involved in the deceptive practices of the world like stealing, lying (v.12) or swearing falsely (v.13, i.e. making a serious show of promise but with no intent to keep it). They are to be men of their word and honour all their covenants. Honesty is not just the best policy – it is ALWAYS the policy.

Do Not Defraud (v.13-14)
“Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.” (Lev. 19:13) Defrauding involves depriving of a right, money, or property by fraud or force if necessary. Robbery differs from stealing (v.12) in the sense that it involves upfront violence and bullying. On the other hand, the taking away of daily wages involves denying a person that which is necessary for his survival for the day (i.e. his daily bread). In both cases, the offender takes away that which rightfully belongs to another person.

Do Not Bully (v.14)
“Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumblingblock before the blind, but shalt fear thy God: I am the LORD.” (Lev. 19:14) In verses 13-14, the offender was seeking to gain an advantage over his neighbour. However, in this case, there is no advantage to be gained other than to puff up one’s ego and to gloat at those who were helpless. This is the epitome of bullying.

As believers, we must never look down on others just because we seem to have an advantage over others. This is a gross manifestation of pride. In Romans 15:1, Paul exhorts the Roman Christians concerning their attitude to their brethren, that they, “that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” Christians must never be brawlers or bullies.

Make Righteous Judgments (v.15)
The Scripture teaches that the Lord loves righteous judgments. “He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.” (Ps. 33:5) “For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.” (Ps. 37:28) Thus, Christians must also embrace righteous judgments in dealings with one another. Truth must always prevail when making judgements. We must not favour a person just because he is rich (or because he is poor). Neither should the personality of the person affect our judgments. The Bible is our sole and supreme authority of faith and practice.

Do Not Slander (v.16)
“Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD.” (Lev. 19:16) The people of the world would oftentimes spread lies about a person’s character to bring him down so that they may profit from a person’s downfall (or sometimes just out of hatred). At times, people just love a delicious gossip! However, truth must always come forth from the mouth of a believer. This also extends to what we say about others over social media. We must never utilise it as a platform to engage in evil surmising and speculations of others. Let not our bodies be used to commit slander.

Conclusion: Hate Not Your Brother (v.17-18)
The second commandment as stated in these two verses has some details not present in its expression in the New Testament. We are told not to hate our brother in our heart. This shows that hatred is often time invisible to others and we are to make sure we get rid of it in our hearts before it manifests itself in our decisions and actions. We are not to hold bitter spirits in our hearts and to seek our own vengeance on one another. We must forgive and seek good for that person. This can only be possible if one is forgiven of his sins in the Lord Jesus Christ and cleansed by the blood of Christ. “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” (Col. 3:12-13)

The Conversational Likings of Bad Men by D.D. Thomas

“A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue.” (Prov. 17:4)

1. THEY LIKE FLATTERY. “A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips.” The flatterer is a man of false lips. The more corrupt men are, the more blindly credulous to everything that makes them appear better than they are. He who compliments them palliates their offences, gives them credit for virtues they possess not, is their favourite companion, and they ever “give heed” to his lips. One of the best things recorded of George III. is, that one of his first acts after his ascension to the throne was to issue an order prohibiting any of the clergy who should be called to preach before him from paying him any compliment in their discourses. His Majesty was led to this from the fulsome adulation which Dr. Thomas Wilson, Prebendary of Westminster, thought proper to deliver in the Chapel Royal, and for which, instead of thanks, he received from his royal auditor a pointed reprimand, his Majesty observing that he came to chapel to hear the praise of God, not his own.

2. THEY LIKE CALUMNY. The liar is also the “wicked doer.” The “naughty tongue,” whilst it speaks flatteries and falsehoods of all kinds, speaks calumnies also. And the worse the man is the more welcome to his depraved heart are the reports of bad things concerning others.
(a) Calumny gratifies the pride of evil men. It helps them to cherish the thought that they are not worse than others, perhaps better.
(b) Calumny gratifies the malignity of evil men. The worse a man is the more malevolence he has in him; the more gratified he is at hearing bad things concerning other men. “If,” said Bishop Hall, “I cannot stop other men’s mouths from speaking ill, I will either open my mouth to reprove it or else I will stop mine ears from hearing it, and let him see in my face that he hath no room in my heart.”

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew