Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18
Some of the laws listed in this passage may seem obvious. Of course we’re not supposed to lie or to steal. Aren’t those in the Ten Commandments? Why repeat them here? And does it really require a law to tell people not to put obstacles in the path of a blind person?
Others may seem a bit odd. What’s this about not keeping someone’s wages overnight? We think it’s pretty normal to get paid only once a week or every other week. But hired workers back then didn’t have money in the bank, and if they didn’t get paid at the end of the day they didn’t have money to pay for food for their families.
All of these laws are specific examples of the principle in verse 18: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. And over and over the reason is given: “I am the LORD.” He is holy, and He requires that we, who were made in His image, be holy, by treating others made in His image as we want them to treat us.
Psalm 119: 33-40
We may have trouble relating to the psalmist’s sense of delight in God’s commandments. We delight in God’s blessings in our lives, especially our salvation. And we want to obey God’s commandments because that is what is right. But to delight in them?
The psalmist understood that obeying God’s commandments is inseparable from God’s blessings in our lives. He also knew the blessings that were experienced not just by the individual obeying God but the whole community, because so many of the God’s commands have to do with how we treat each other. When we all obey those commands, we are blessed both by our own obedience and by the obedience of others.
Christians over the centuries have differed on how to interpret Jesus’ words in this passage. Pacifists see a complete prohibition on violence, even in defense of self, family, or nation. Others see a principle of non-violent resistance.
Considering the specific examples used, it does not appear that Jesus is suggesting we give in to every demand. What is clear, is that the follower of Jesus is willing to go beyond what is required, and that this is based on God’s generosity to all people.