- Sermon Notes
Jesus was asked several times what is the greatest, the foremost of all that God has spoken? His answer comes right out of the Old Testament. “The greatest, the foremost of all that God has said,” Jesus replied, “is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” That comes right out of the book of Deuteronomy.
Jesus continued, “and the second is like it; you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” That comes right out of the verses we’re studying today in Leviticus 19.
“On these two commandments hang the entire Law and prophets.” In other words, the entire Old Testament can be summarized by those two statements.
The book of Leviticus is about worship, but it’s also about how to live as God’s people. It was He who rescued them from their oppression and slavery in Egypt. It was He who defeated their enemies, who gave them the land as their own possession, who promised that His presence would be with them.
In other words, because the Lord is their God, they should not live as those in Egypt from where they came or as those in Canaan where they are going. They should be different, they should be distinct, because the Lord is their God.
The same is true for you and me. God has redeemed you; He has called you His own son or daughter, He has given eternal life and every promise behind the name of Jesus. The Lord is your God and you should also live distinct, be different than the world. You’re in the kingdom of God now and He has given you the opportunity to have a relationship to the living God. Therefore, you should love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength; and you should love your neighbor as yourself.
These verses in Leviticus 19 tells you what it means to love your neighbor as yourself, but it also tells you why you should love your neighbor as yourself; because the Lord is your God; because you revere God.
I. God’s People Care about Others
- Because the Lord is your God, you should have God’s heart toward others.That’s not natural; everyone born on this earth is born self-focused and self-centered.
- God cares; He’s concerned for those less fortunate, for the broken and hurting, and for the widows and orphans, and He wants you to have the same heart – – because the Lord is your God.
A.Be generous to those in need
- What a beautiful way to take care of those in need and those traveling through the land.The farmers were to leave the corners of the field and the gleanings for those in need to harvest.
- The book of Ruth made this provision famous.When she and her mother-in-law Naomi came from Moab broken and poor, it was this provision that provided for them.They were poor and Ruth was a foreigner.
- As she was gleaning, she was noticed by Boaz, their kinsman redeemer, and the rest is history.She became the great-grandmother of King David.
- At the end of verse 10 He gives the reason to care for those in need, “I am the Lord your God.”In other words, because the Lord is your God, be generous to those in need.Have God’s heart toward others.
- God will bless your harvest, God will bless your business, God will bless you when you have a heart to bless others.
Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you.They will pour into your lap a good measure – pressed down, shaken together, and running over.For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”
B. Be true because God is the truth
- Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father but by Me.”
- In other words, truth is not just something to know or understand, it’s a quality of character.It’s something to live; it’s something to become.Truth is a person and His name is Jesus.
- You’re in the kingdom of God now; God is the King and truth is part of His nature.Therefore, value truth in the inner man.Be true because God is the truth.
Psalm 51:6, Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.
- Verse 11 – Do not steal, do not deal falsely, and do not lie to one another.Be honest in your dealings with others because the Lord is your God and He desires truth in the inward part.
- Not only does it hurt others to deal falsely, it hurts you.You are robbing yourself of character and integrity – which are of great value.
Proverbs 22:1, A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches.
Illus - When I was in grade school, I stole a marshmallow orange peanut and got caught; which was a good thing.My career as a thief immediately ended.My mom made me work and then pay the manager in person.I learned that losing one’s integrity hurts deeply.
- Verse 12 – Do not swear falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God; I am the Lord.
- It was common for men to convince others of their honesty and integrity by swearing in the name of God.Something like, “I swear by God’s name that I will do such and such.”
- Jesus brought a word of correction…
Matthew 5:37, “Let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond this is of evil.
C. Be goodhearted and kind
- Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind.It’s sad that such a rule should have to be said at all. It’s a tragic commentary on human nature.
- It’s just plain mean-spirited to curse the deaf or to put a stumbling block before the blind.The deaf cannot hear such a curse, but everyone else can.The point, then, was to get others to laugh at the one who is deaf.
- The blind can’t see the stumbling block and to do such a thing on purpose is just mean.The point is to get people to laugh at the blind man who stumbled.
- Our modern times are interesting.We have advanced technologically but the character and nature of man is only getting worse. I’ve never seen more mean-spirited hurtful words like what is happening today.
- God is saying that He is offended when the weak, the deaf, the blind, the orphan, or the widow is hurt. And He will defend them.
- Be goodhearted and kind because the Lord is your God and he is kind and goodhearted.
Psalm 82:3-4, Defend the poor and fatherless… Deliver the poor and needy; free them from the hand of the wicked.
Proverbs 31:8, Open your mouth for the mute and for the rights of all the unfortunate.
Illus - I was in high school gym class when a bully took a basketball from a smaller kid, shoved him, and said, “I’ll take that.”Something snapped in me and I went after the bully.Two years later that same bully got into a serious car accident and became brain damaged.God opened the door for me to take him under my wing and we became friends.
- God says to be goodhearted and kind because the Lord is your God and you shall revere Him.
II. Love Your Neighbor as Yourself
- These next verses lead to the famous command, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
- You can summarize all these laws, Jesus said, by these two commands; love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.
- In other words, God is love.You’re in the kingdom of God now.Our God is the King and He wants us to have the same heart as He does.
A. Let your speech always be with grace
- Verse 16 – do not go about as a slanderer among your people… Because the Lord is your God.
- The world is full of hatred and animosity, but you’re in the kingdom of God now.Put off the ways of the world and put on Christ.
Illus - There is a scene in a Star Wars movie where a storm trooper named Finn leaves the dark Empire and escapes, only to crash on a nearby planet. He leaves the crash site and as he’s walking through the desert, he removes the old Stormtrooper armor piece by piece, leaving a trail behind him.It’s a great illustration; put off the old, you’re in the kingdom of God now.
- Don’t be a slanderer.Instead, Paul says, let your speech always be with grace.
Colossians 4:6, Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.
Ephesians 4:29, Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
- The key word in that verse is the word ‘no’ as in none, nada, nichevo -- let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth; but only such a word that is good for edification.
- Words are powerful; they can build up or tear down.Be very careful because words can be hurtful.If you love God, then love your neighbor.One of the most powerful expressions of that are the words that proceed from your mouth.
James 3:9-10, With the tongue we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.
James 1:26, If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.
Luke 6:45, “The mouth speaks from that which fills the heart.”
B.Let go of hurts; do not bear a grudge
- There are many New Testament verses that speak the same truths.It’s the same heart God expresses in both the Old and New Testament.
Romans 12:14, 17-18, Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse… Never pay back evil for evil to anyone… If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
- For many, there is an unspoken rule that whatever someone does to you, you can do the same to them. That’s a principle of the world, but you’re in the Kingdom of God now. God’s ways are higher.
Matthew 5:43-45, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven;”
- In other words, you will become more like God, your Father.
- In the book of Romans, Paul also says this…
Romans 12:19-21, Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.“But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.
Illus - In the Count of Monte Cristo, Abbe Faria and young Edmond Dantes are wrongfully imprisoned.Faria tells young Dantes that when he escapes and finds the treasure of Sparta, he must use it for good, only for good.
“No!” says Dantes, “I will surely use it for my revenge.” Faria, breathing his last, says, “Here now is your last lesson. Do not commit the crime for which you now serve the sentence. God has said, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay.’ “I don’t believe in God,” says Dantes. “It doesn’t matter,” says Faria, “He believes in you.”
At the end, Dantes stands on the island that was once his prison and says, “You were right, priest, you were right. This I promise you… and God. That which I once used for vengeance I will now use for good. So rest in peace, my friend, rest in peace.”