Leviticus 19 contains a repetition of various laws showing how everyday life in Israel  should be regulated by these precepts. They are expressions of Yahweh’s virtuous character. Each  of these directives is “signed off ” with a statement of supreme authority, either “I am Yahweh” or “I am  Yahweh thy God,” both ‘signatures’ occurring eight  times in this chapter.

The whole congregation were to be “holy” or  sacred – not just the Levites and priests. As the  ecclesia of God today, we are all to be holy in all manner of behaviour (1 Pet. 1:15, 16).

Reading further in this chapter we find that respect and reverence for parents is essential  for godliness(v3). In the Ten Commandments  the obedience of children to parents is the, “first  commandment with promise.”(Exod 20:12) What  was that promise? That “thy days may be long upon the  land which Yahweh thy God giveth thee.” The Apostle  Paul when repeating this command concludes  with the words, “thou mayest live long on the earth”  (Eph 6:1-3). Note now that the promise has been  extended from “long upon the land” (of Canaan) to  “long on the earth” (in the Kingdom). So how much  greater is the promise now to believers, to Gentiles  as well as Jews?

Moses continues to outline that the principle of  the peace offering was fellowship with Yahweh.(Lev  19:5–8) Let’s appreciate that this was a voluntary  offering. Our worship and love of our Father arises  from a strong desire to be at one with Him. Hence  by clear implication we need to be at one with each  other, for how can we claim to love God if we do not  love one another? How can we really claim to love  one another if we absent ourselves from ecclesial  activities to pursue our own pleasures? We all have  to answer to our Lord regarding our priorities in  this life.

This obligation is clearly outlined by the “disciple  whom Jesus loved” in 1 John 4:20. We are liars if we  claim to love God (and who wouldn’t make such  a claim) and yet hate our brother. How many of  our brethren and sisters who have left the family  of God, refusing to consider coming back because  of an ‘offence’ done to them – yet they still claim  to love God?

The love of one’s neighbour is further highlighted  in the law relating to gleaning of harvests (v 9–10).  Israelites were not to gather gleanings from their  harvests of grain, olives, grapes, etc. These were to  be left for the poor and stranger in their midst – the  story of Ruth being a case in point (Ruth 2:15,16).  But under the Law there was no directive as to  just how much was to be left. God-fearing Boaz  instructed his servants to purposely let fall more of  the harvest so that Ruth the Moabitess could gather  more for herself and Naomi! It was up to the land  holder as to just how much compassion he would  show upon the poor and needy in his midst. His  generosity would be governed by just how much he  appreciated the love of God.

In verses 11 and 12 we read of the need to  show respect to one another and also for God’s  name. Doubtless these are also related matters of  our daily life in Christ. We are to be aware of our  brother’s needs and not to defraud him. Note how  James castigates those of his time who withheld the  wages of their labourers (5:4). Their cry entered into  the ears of Yahweh of hosts. It is a fearful thing to  fall into the hands of the living God (Heb 10:31).  The Father is not unmindful of the way we treat  one another.

Moses continues to tell the Israelites and us that  we are to show care for the deaf and blind (v14) – we  are not to revile or disregard those in our midst who  are stricken with any infirmity. Our Lord was full  of compassion towards such in his generation – and  we should manifest the same attitude in our time!

We are not to show respect of persons, whether  rich or poor. God is in heaven and we are on earth,  and very soon we are to stand before the great Judge  – and He is not influenced by our position in the  world or ecclesia. Gossip (v16) is abhorrent to our  God. It is the cause of deep hurt, suspicion and strife  (Prov18:8; 20:19). A sister, years ago, put gossip to  an end when she asked the gossiper, “Have you told  them what you are now telling me?” In another case  a brother said to a talebearer, “Let’s go together to this brother and you tell them what you’ve just told  me.” It’s so true that,“where there is no talebearer, the  strife ceaseth.”(Prov 26:20)

The Royal Law

Now we come to the key verse requiring our earnest  consideration; “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself:  I am Yahweh.”(v18) This clause is called by James  the “royal law” (2:8). Hence “love” is the sovereign  principle that should govern our relationships with  one another. Our love of God is shown by our love  of our neighbour.

The first four of the Ten Commandments  related to worship of God and keeping the Sabbath.  The remaining six related to parents and love for our  neighbours – primarily our brothers and sisters in  Christ! The Apostle Paul states that the whole law  is fulfilled, completed or perfected when we love  our neighbour as ourselves.(Gal 5:14) Further, in  Romans 13:10, he writes that love worketh no ill  and is therefore the fulfilling of the law.

Genuine self–sacrificing love in action will  overlook a multitude of sins in our brother or sister.  (Jas 5:20)

But the statement is to love our neighbour as  we love ourselves! But aren’t we to put to death the  old man and put on the new man which is created  in righteousness?(Eph 4:22–24). Why should we  “love ourselves”? Well, by nature we protect ourselves  when threatened or in danger. The Apostle equates  our natural care for self to the love the Lord has for  his Bride, his ecclesia(Eph 5:29). Hereby he gives  us a powerful example to follow toward our spouses  and one another(v 21–33). It’s really the principle of  submission to God and one another, and realizing  that we all have responsibilities toward each other  and not rights! The supreme example of Christ and  his loving sacrifice for his bride, is set forth for us  to emulate.

Jesus gave us a “new” commandment to love  one another as he has loved us(John 13:34,35).  No greater motivation could ever be set before us  to follow!

We all claim to have faith in the Scriptures. But  remember, dear brother and dear sister, that faith  is energised (activated, made efficient) by (agape)  love!(Gal.5:6). Our belief in God must be seen  in actions motivated by love. When confronted  by evidence of a brother or sister in desperate  need, either here or overseas in vastly different  circumstances, how do we respond? By saying in  effect“ Depart in peace, and be warmed and fed”: by  doing nothing to relieve their critical situation? If  so, then what evidence is there in our claim to have  faith? Our conviction of God’s love toward us in  giving His only begotten Son must be manifested is  a positive response to our needy brethren and sisters.  This is the powerful message of James 2:14-16.

Our love needs activation

The Apostle John also questions how the love of  God dwells in us if we shut up our feelings, our  emotions of compassion towards our needy brethren  and sisters?(1 John 3:17–18). Our love needs to be  expressed, not just in words, but in actions and in  truth.

Such sentiments motivate our welfare  committees, Care and Support Groups, Agape  in Action, Bible Mission preaching and support  activities, the Christadelphian Disaster Fund, the  Christadelphian Isolation League, the Meal A Day  Fund and others.

In summing up many organizations, especially  those in the world, it, has been recorded, “After  all is said and done – more is said than done.” Let  us, brethren and sisters, give generously of the  abundance we have to brothers and sisters, whether  in our own ecclesia, in our country or overseas. In so  doing we can lighten their burden in life as together  we watch and wait for our Lord’s coming!

Just prior to his crucifixion, our Lord spoke the  parable of the sheep and the goats. In it he gives  us an insight as to how we will be assessed when  he returns. Our judgment will be based on how we  have shown the love of God towards our brethren  and sisters – who also are his brethren and sisters  (Matt 25:32–46). Our treatment of them equates to  our treatment of him! Who would dare to treat our  Lord and Saviour with disdain, lack of interest, or in  an off-handed manner? A noteworthy aspect of this  assessment is that those accepted were unaware of  their deeds of kindness to their brethren and sisters.  It was the unconscious outworking of God’s love  manifest toward them. We could term this, “agape  in action.”

We do not keep a record of our deeds of loving  kindness so as to put the Lord in debt, so that he  might ‘owe’ us salvation; we act in love because he  first loved us! As we are called to be shepherds of  the flock in caring for one another, in the same way that we are sheep under the guidance of the great  Shepherd of the flock. We are to follow the direction  of Paul that whatever we do, we “do it heartily to the  Lord and not unto men”; we must not seek the praise  of our fellows.(Col 3:23)

Psalm 15 provided the resource material for  Jesus’ discourse as recorded in Matthew 5–7. Here  we have the requirements for faithful service –  walking uprightly, working righteousness, speaking  truth, not gossiping, nor doing evil to another,  etc. These are all active words based upon an  appreciation of God’s love and His sacrifice of His  beloved Son that we might have our sins forgiven  and have a hope of eternity! Brethren and sisters,  let us “think upon these things.”(Phil 4:8)

In 1 Corinthians 13:1–8, we have Paul’s masterly  assessment of the limitless effects of agape love!  It is a chapter worthy of our deepest reflection –  enhanced all the more so by replacing the word  “charity” (agape) with “Christ”. So, with this in  mind, this section of Scripture concludes with the  implication of, “Christ never faileth.”

As we partake of the bread and wine in  remembrance of our Lord’s love and sacrifice, let  us consider deeply his example, realizing that we  are now dead to sin through baptism and are alive  to righteousness which leads unto everlasting life.  (1 Pet 2:21,24; Rom 6:22)

“For by grace are you saved through faith; and that  not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works lest  any man should boast.” (Eph 2:8,9)