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30 July 2020 – Leviticus 19:9-18

“‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the LORD your God.
“‘Do not steal.
“‘Do not lie.
“‘Do not deceive one another.
“‘Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the LORD.
“‘Do not defraud or rob your neighbor.
“‘Do not hold back the wages of a hired worker overnight.
“‘Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the LORD.
“‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.
“‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people.
“‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the LORD.
“‘Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt.
“‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. – Leviticus 19:9-18

Derek Tidball writes:

Sociologists are increasingly speaking of the need for ‘social capital’ if a society is to function smoothly. Any society needs more than financial capital and physical infrastructure in order to be prosperous; it also needs quality social relationships and secure networks that share a common set of values. A society that has made a good investment in social capital will not be one in which people are distrustful and suspicious of one another or one that has to devote endless resources to dealing with crime. It will be comfortable to live in, and its members will enjoy sharing common resources. It will function much more efficiently than those in which society’s social capital is low. The fear of many today is that the social capital of all cultures of advanced individualism is disappearing fast. From one viewpoint, Leviticus 19 is about how every member of a community can invest in its social capital.

Yet, we must be careful not to advance down this particular road too fast. For though the laws of Leviticus 19 will lead to the creation of a wholesome community and the banking of wonderful reserves of social capital this is not the chapter’s raison d’etre. The rules are designed first and foremost not as a matter of social convenience but as a matter of divine holiness. They arise from God’s invitation to be holy because I the LORD your God, am holy.

It may be helpful to recognize that the issues of holiness and social capital naturally belong together. Since holiness means being set apart as belonging to (or dedicated to) God; and living a life of holiness means living in light of belonging to God and therefore reflecting God’s character into the world; we shouldn’t be surprised that when the members of a community reflect God’s character into the world this leads to society functioning better. In fact, if everyone reflected God’s character perfectly we would be in a Garden civilization like that of the New Heaven and Earth. We, of course, are incapable of doing that ourselves – but one day Christ Himself will bring that to pass.

MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 4
Q. 4. What is God?
A. God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.

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