ODJ: love and holiness

May 7, 2015 

READ: Leviticus 19:1-37 

Love your neighbour as yourself. I am the LORD (v.18).

The Bible is full of contrasts. We read that our holy “God is a devouring fire” (Deuteronomy 4:24). But a few chapters later we find that God “lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him” (7:9). John also wrote, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Fire burns and is dangerous. Love delights and protects. So how can God be both holy and love?

At the foot of Mount Sinai, the Israelites were soon to follow Moses into the wilderness. God had rescued His people from Egypt, but now He would deliver them from disobedient, destructive practices. So He gave Moses a list of instructions to help the Israelites understand what it meant to live holy lives—lives set apart for God, reflecting His ways. He said, “You must be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy” (Leviticus 19:2).

Then beginning with “respect for your mother and father” and ending with the need for honest and accurate “standards” (vv.3, 35-36), God gave detailed instructions for how to live in a way that reflects His character. In verse 18 He gave Moses (and the people) this command: “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge . . . but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the LORD.”

Love flows from holiness; holiness is reflected in love. These attributes of God fit together like bread and butter, even though they might seem to be more like fire and rain.

How? God is righteous and perfect—He is holy. And He wants us to reflect His essence. God is also loving. He gave His only Son that we might experience real life (John 3:16). And He calls us to love as He loves.

Yes, we can find contrasts in Scripture, but there’s no conflict among God’s many attributes. He’s both perfectly loving and perfectly holy.

—Tom Felten

365-day-plan: Esther 6:1–7:10

Read Romans 13:9 and consider how God’s commands for holy living were summed up by Paul in one command. 
How do love and holiness fit together in your walk with Jesus? Which of these attributes do you need more of in your life? Why?