“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.” (Leviticus 19:1-2)
We are told that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. A little boy who sincerely loves and admires his father will copy everything his father does. If we sincerely admire and love God as our father, we ought to copy him the same way. Because he is holy, we should be holy as well. The word holy has several different meanings, but there are two which apply in this case. One definition is ‘spiritually perfect or pure, untainted by evil or sin, sinless. The second is belonging to or coming from God, dedicated to him or consecrated. I Peter 1:15-16 tells us this command applies to Christians as well as to the Jews. “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” God explains what will be required to be holy people.
“Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I am the LORD your God. Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:3-4)
God placed our parents over us. By showing respect to them, we demonstrate respect for the one who put them in charge. Unfortunately we have developed some symbols of respect that are often mistaken for the real thing. Frequently terms such as sir are used to conceal disrespect. Real respect is the attitude rather than the symbolic actions or words.
If we are truly consecrated or dedicated to God, we will want to do what he desires, taking the Sabbath day off to please him. Like a wife who is devoted to her husband, there should be not desire to find somebody else.
“And if ye offer a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD, ye shall offer it at your own will. It shall be eaten the same day ye offer it, and on the morrow: and if ought remain until the third day, it shall be burnt in the fire. And if it be eaten at all on the third day, it is abominable; it shall not be accepted. Therefore every one that eateth it shall bear his iniquity, because he hath profaned the hallowed thing of the LORD: and that soul shall be cut off from among his people.” (Leviticus 19:5-8)
The attitude with which peace and thanksgiving offerings were given was mor important than what was given. They were to given because a person wanted to, rather than from a sense of obligation or in order to get God to give something in return. While they were free to partake of such offering themselves, they were not to try to get the maximum value from them, but to burn what was left over after the second day. To misuse it in an attempt to get greater value was to profane the gift. It was like a person who gives to get the tax advantages or to stimulate business by promising to donate a certain amount for each item sold.
“And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest. And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:9-10)
They were not to be greedy in harvesting their fields to try to get every bit of their crops, but to trust God to supply enough, leaving what was missed or hard to collect for others who might need it.
“Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another. And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD. 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.” (Leviticus 19:11-13)
If they truly tried to be like God, and trusted him to do what he promised, they would not feel a need to steal or lie to each other, At the same time they would not want to show disrespect toward God by using his name to falsely convince people of something or by using it frivolously. How many people demonstrate a lack of respect for God by using comments like “ Oh my God” to express surprise?
If they really believed God or cared about others like he does, they would not cheat other people, or hold back a man’s paycheck so they could save some interest like modern businesses do, often leaving their employees to struggle until their check finally comes.
“Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumblingblock before the blind, but shalt fear thy God: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:14)
They were not to take advantage of a person’s handicaps, even as a joke, but were to give them the same respect they would give anyone else.
“Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.” (Leviticus 19:15)
Truly holy people will be completely impartial in their judgment of others. They will not favor a person because he is rich or or famous, or because he is poor. Race will play no part in his decision. Unfortunately, in the American court system we deliberately select judges and juries based on their commitment to favor a particular view, then wonder why we get such perverted judgments.
“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.” (Leviticus 19:16)
Holy people would not spread rumors and gossip, nor would they take sides against somebody to destroy their life and happiness, even when mobs of people demand it.
“Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:17-18)
Holy people would not hate their neighbor bu would love them and treat them as they would want to be treated. They wouldn’t hold grudges or try to get even with other people. By straightening things out when they occurred, things would not come to that point.
“Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.” (Leviticus 19:19)
A holy people would appreciate and respect what God had done. Not only would they keep his laws, they would not try to modify his creations by trying to breed different species of animals to try to get some particular traits. For example, they wouldn’t cross a horse with a donkey to get a mule, or a cow with a buffalo to get beefalo, nor would they cross rye with wheat to produce triticale. Such efforts, like modern efforts to produce genetically modified animals and plants imply we know more than god about what we need. Even planting very similar plants in close juxtaposition can result in such crossbreeding and was to be avoided. The hybrids that result are usually unable to reproduce, and the strains of seed are lost.
Clearly, holiness is as much about the attitude as it is about the actions. When the attitude is right, proper actions tend to follow naturally. While Christians are not obligated to follow the rules in Leviticus, it clearly illustrates the attitudes they should have toward God and toward other people.