Exclusion to Inclusion: Love your neighbor as yourself
“You shall not defraud your neighbor; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a laborer until morning. You shall not revile the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind; you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.
“You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand idly by when the blood of your neighbor is at stake: I am the Lord.
“You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord." ~ Leviticus 19:13-18
Before we get to "love your neighbor as yourself," there are a lot of clarifying sentences.
Don't defraud them. Don't steal from them. Deal justly. Protect them from danger. Let them know when they do something wrong.
Some good guidance on HOW to love them.
And in the midst of that are sprinkled some ideas of just WHO our neighbors are: laborers, the deaf, the poor, the great, your family.
Loving our neighbor is a journey. It's a journey that by trial and error takes us through the twists and turns of conflict, reconciliation, and understanding.
It's a journey that opens our eyes to the realities of our neighbors' lives. Their joys and sorrows.
A journey that opens us up to a love that is deep and inclusive...a love that hopefully includes our self!
And as we are drawn closer to our neighbor, perhaps we are also drawn closer to our true self. Perhaps in loving them, we get a taste of God's love for us.
In seeing the worthiness of our neighbors, perhaps we can find the worthiness in ourselves.
For some, it is hard to love our neighbor exactly because it is hard to love our self.
But God wants to draw us in: "I am the Lord."
The Lord who loves our neighbor and who loves us.
- Are there times it is hard to love yourself?
- When has been a time love for a neighbor has expanded your own life in rich ways?
Holy One, lead me, push me, pull me, prompt me along this journey of faith. Keep my footsteps sure and my eyes fixed on the places you would send me. Amen