“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.” Lev. 19:18
There was a show on the Discovery Channel called “Dirty Jobs.” The show featured host, Mike Rowe, performing difficult, strange, and, often, disgusting jobs alongside the people who made a living doing these jobs. Even though the show no longer exists, I had a great idea for an episode this morning. I would like to see Mike Rowe teach 40 elementary school children the rules to a game. However, it has to be done after the children have spent 7 hours sitting in a classroom and have been fed soda and candy.
Hyped-up children ready for fun don’t like listening to rules. They just want to start playing as if the rules will become self-evident as the game progresses. This never happens. It takes about 5 minutes for all the fun to be sucked out of the room. Children start calling each other names and fights silence the laughter. Eventually, the whole group of children are either pouting, yelling, crying or walking away. It’s a dirty job, but someone one always gets sucked into doing it.
Knowing and following the rules are critical for a children’s game to be fun. When boundaries are established and maintained, total chaos can be transformed into overflowing joy. It’s funny how self-evident this is when watching children, yet, we become blind to the same impact on adults.
The rules the Lord asks Moses to teach are intended to help Israel be holy. They begin with these words, “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” Then conclude with a reminder of holiness, “I am the Lord.” The pattern seems to suggest, because humans are made in the image of God, we need to make God’s holiness visible in daily life. Holiness is demonstrated by showing love and mercy to your neighbor.
When I read verse 18 from Leviticus 19 this morning, children were the first thing that came to my mind. Children know this lesson well, but I’m not so sure about adults. We tend to honor vengeance and grudges. However, these things do not communicate love, mercy or life. Matter for fact, they often destroy life. On the other hand, love and mercy make life overflowing with joy. These are rules even children understand.
Click to read: Leviticus 19: 1-19
- When have you experienced an expectation of fun destroyed by arguments?
- Where have you experienced vengeance and grudges destroying life?
- How can these instances be transformed by mercy and love?
- How difficult is it to show mercy in the midst of a grudge?
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