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What Leviticus Teaches Us About How to Treat Others

What Leviticus Teaches Us About How to Treat Others

“You must love your fellow man as yourself.”​—LEV. 19:18.

SONG 109 Love Intensely From the Heart


1-2. What did we consider in the preceding article, and what will we consider in this article?

IN THE preceding article, we considered practical counsel set out in Leviticus chapter 19. For example, as noted in verse 3, Jehovah admonished the Israelites to respect their parents. We discussed how we today can apply that advice by caring for our parents’ physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. In the same verse, God’s people were reminded of the importance of observing the Sabbath. We learned that while we are not bound by the Sabbath law today, we can apply the principle by regularly setting aside time in our schedule to care for matters related to our worship. In doing so, we will show that we are striving to be holy, as Leviticus 19:2 and 1 Peter 1:15 direct.

2 In this article, we will continue to consider Leviticus chapter 19. What can this chapter teach us about showing consideration to those who have physical limitations, about being honest in our business dealings, and about showing love to our fellow man? We want to be holy as God is holy, so let us see what we can learn.


Leviticus 19:14 encourages what attitude and actions toward someone who is deaf or blind? (See paragraphs 3-5) *

3-4. According to Leviticus 19:14, how were the deaf and the blind to be treated?

3 Read Leviticus 19:14. Jehovah expected his people to show consideration for those who had physical limitations. For example, the Israelites were not to curse a deaf man. Such cursing involved threatening someone or calling down evil on him. What a terrible thing to do to a deaf man! He could not hear what was being said about him, so he would not be in a position to defend himself.

4 Furthermore, in verse 14 we learn that God’s servants were not to “put an obstacle before a blind man.” One reference work comments regarding people with physical challenges: “In the ancient Near East [they] tended to be exploited and abused.” Perhaps some inconsiderate person would place an obstacle before a blind man out of spite or out of some perverted sense of humor. How unkind! By means of this command, Jehovah helped his people to see that they should show compassion to those who were disadvantaged.

5. How can we show compassion to those with physical limitations?

5 Jesus showed compassion to those who had physical limitations. Recall the report he sent to John the Baptist: “The blind are now seeing, the lame are walking, the lepers are being cleansed, the deaf are hearing, [and] the dead are being raised up.” In response to Jesus’ miracles, “all the people gave praise to God.” (Luke 7:20-22; 18:43) Christians are happy to imitate Jesus’ compassionate attitude toward those who have physical limitations. So we are kind, considerate, and patient with such ones. Granted, Jehovah has not given us the power to perform miracles. We are privileged, though, to tell those who are physically or spiritually blind the good news about a paradise where mankind will be restored to full physical and spiritual health. (Luke 4:18) This good news is already leading many to give praise to God.


6. How does the information found in Leviticus chapter 19 expand on what was stated in the Ten Commandments?

6 Some verses in Leviticus chapter 19 expand on what was stated in the Ten Commandments. For example, the eighth commandment simply said: “You must not steal.” (Ex. 20:15) Someone might conclude that as long as he was careful not to take anything that did not belong to him, he would be obeying that command. Yet, he might be stealing in other ways.

7. How might a merchant break the eighth commandment about stealing?

7 A merchant might take pride in the fact that he had never taken anything that did not belong to him. But what about his business practices? As recorded at Leviticus 19:35, 36, Jehovah said: “You must not use dishonest standards in measuring length, weight, or volume. You should use accurate scales, accurate weights, an accurate dry measure, and an accurate liquid measure.” A merchant who used inaccurate scales or measurements in order to deceive his customers would in a sense be stealing from them. A further consideration of Leviticus chapter 19 makes that clear.

In view of Leviticus 19:11-13, a Christian might make what self-examination about business practices? (See paragraphs 8-10) *

8. How did the details found at Leviticus 19:11-13 help the Jews to apply the spirit of the eighth commandment, and how can we benefit?

8 Read Leviticus 19:11-13. The opening words of Leviticus 19:11 read: “You must not steal.” Verse 13 connects stealing with dishonest business practices, saying: “You must not defraud your fellow man.” So fraudulent business practices are linked with stealing and robbery. While the eighth commandment set out the law on stealing, the details found in Leviticus would help the Jews to understand how they could apply the spirit of that law. We can benefit from reflecting on Jehovah’s view of dishonesty and stealing. We might ask ourselves: ‘In the light of Leviticus 19:11-13, is there something in my life that merits attention? Do I need to make adjustments in my business dealings or work habits?’

9. What protection did the law found at Leviticus 19:13 provide?

9 There is another aspect of honesty that a Christian who has a business should consider. Leviticus 19:13 concludes: “You should not withhold the wages of a hired worker all night until morning.” In the agricultural society of Israel, hired laborers were to be paid at the end of each workday. To hold back the wages of such a worker would deprive him of the money he needed to feed his family that day. Jehovah explained: “He is in need and his life depends on his wages.”​—Deut. 24:14, 15; Matt. 20:8.

10. We can draw what lesson from Leviticus 19:13?

10 Today many employees are paid once or twice a month, not every day. However, the principle set out at Leviticus 19:13 is still valid. Some employers take advantage of their employees by paying them an amount that is far below what is fair. They know that these workers may have little choice but to continue working for starvation wages. In a sense, such employers are ‘withholding the wages of a hired worker.’ A Christian who has a business would want to take this point to heart. Now let us see what else we can learn from Leviticus chapter 19.


11-12. What did Jesus emphasize by quoting from Leviticus 19:17, 18?

11 God’s interest in how we treat people includes more than merely telling us to refrain from doing harm to our fellow man. We can see this at Leviticus 19:17, 18. (Read.) Note the clear command: “You must love your fellow man as yourself.” Acting that way is fundamental for a Christian who wants to please God.

12 Consider how Jesus emphasized the importance of the command recorded at Leviticus 19:18. A Pharisee once asked Jesus: “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied that “the greatest and first commandment” is to love Jehovah with our whole heart, our whole soul, and our whole mind. Then Jesus quoted Leviticus 19:18, saying: “The second, like it, is this: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matt. 22:35-40) There are countless ways to show love for neighbor, but once again we can gain insight from Leviticus chapter 19.

13. How does the Bible account of Joseph illustrate the point later made at Leviticus 19:18?

13 One way to show love for our neighbor is by applying the counsel found at Leviticus 19:18. It says: “You must not take vengeance nor hold a grudge.” Most of us know of cases in which a person has held a grudge against a coworker, a schoolmate, a relative, or a family member​—even for years! Recall that Joseph’s ten half brothers harbored a grudge against him, which finally led them to commit a hateful act. (Gen. 37:2-8, 25-28) How differently Joseph acted toward them! When he was in a position of authority and could get even with his half brothers, he showed them mercy. Joseph did not hold a grudge. Rather, he acted in harmony with the counsel recorded later at Leviticus 19:18.​—Gen. 50:19-21.

14. What shows that the principles found at Leviticus 19:18 still hold true?

14 Joseph’s course of forgiving instead of nursing a grudge or taking vengeance sets a pattern for Christians who want to please God. It is also in harmony with the model prayer, for Jesus urged us to forgive those who sin against us. (Matt. 6:9, 12) Likewise, the apostle Paul advised fellow Christians: “Do not avenge yourselves, beloved.” (Rom. 12:19) He also encouraged them: “Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely even if anyone has a cause for complaint against another.” (Col. 3:13) Jehovah’s principles do not change. The principles behind the law stated at Leviticus 19:18 still hold true today.

Just as it is best not to keep picking at a literal wound, it is best not to keep thinking about offenses. We should try to put them behind us (See paragraph 15) *

15. How might we illustrate the need to put offenses behind us?

15 Consider an illustration. Hurt feelings can be likened to physical wounds. Some are minor; others are serious. For example, when we open an envelope, we might get a slight paper cut on our finger. That can really hurt, but it will likely not do us any lasting harm. After a day or two, perhaps we do not even recall where the cut was. Similarly, some offenses are minor. For example, a friend may say or do something thoughtless that hurts us, but we are able to forgive him easily. But if we have a deeper wound, a doctor may have to stitch the wound and bind it in bandages. If we were to keep poking or picking at the wound, we would only harm ourselves. Sadly, a person might be doing something similar when he is deeply offended. He may constantly think about the emotional injury he suffered and the hurt the other person caused him. But those who hold a grudge hurt only themselves. How much better it is to obey the counsel found at Leviticus 19:18!

16. According to Leviticus 19:33, 34, how were foreign residents in Israel to be cared for, and what can we learn from that?

16 When Jehovah commanded the Israelites to love their fellow man, he did not mean that they should show love only to those of the same race or nationality. They were also told to love the foreigners in their midst. That is the clear message found at Leviticus 19:33, 34. (Read.) The foreigner was to be treated “like a native,” and the Israelites were to “love him” as themselves. For example, the Israelites were to permit both the foreign residents and the poor to benefit from the gleaning arrangement. (Lev. 19:9, 10) The principle about loving foreigners applies to Christians today. (Luke 10:30-37) How so? There are millions of immigrants, and likely some live near you. It is important for us to treat these men, women, and children with dignity and respect.


17-18. (a) How should Leviticus 19:2 and 1 Peter 1:15 affect us? (b) What important work did the apostle Peter encourage us to do?

17 Both Leviticus 19:2 and 1 Peter 1:15 urge God’s people to be holy. Many other verses in Leviticus chapter 19 can help us see what we can do to gain Jehovah’s approval. We have discussed verses that identify just some of the positive things to do and some of the negative things to avoid. * The Christian Greek Scriptures show the need for similar conduct. But the apostle Peter adds something.

18 While we may engage in various spiritual activities and do many good works, Peter highlighted one in particular. Leading up to his encouragement to become holy in all our conduct, Peter urges us: “Brace up your minds for activity.” (1 Pet. 1:13, 15) What would that activity involve? Peter said that Christ’s anointed brothers would “‘declare abroad the excellencies’ of the One who called” them. (1 Pet. 2:9) In fact, all Christians today have the honor of doing this most important work, one that does the greatest amount of good. What a special privilege we have as a holy people to share regularly and zealously in the preaching and teaching work! (Mark 13:10) When we diligently apply the principles found in Leviticus chapter 19, we prove that we love our God and our neighbor. And we show that we want to “become holy” in all our conduct.

SONG 111 Our Reasons for Joy

^ par. 5 Christians are not under the Mosaic Law, but that Law mentions many things that we should do or should avoid doing. Learning about them can help us show love to others and please God. This article discusses how we can benefit from some lessons found in Leviticus chapter 19.

^ par. 17 Verses not addressed in these articles deal with showing partiality, slandering others, consuming blood, as well as practicing spiritism, fortune-telling, and sexual immorality.​—Lev. 19:15, 16, 26-29, 31.​—See “Questions From Readers” in this issue.

^ par. 52 PICTURE DESCRIPTION: A Witness helps a deaf brother communicate with a doctor.

^ par. 54 PICTURE DESCRIPTION: A brother who has a painting business gives an employee his wages.

^ par. 56 PICTURE DESCRIPTION: A sister can easily forget about a minor cut. Will she choose to do the same with a more serious injury?