Matters of Faith: Just As If

By Reverend J. Loren Russell

Leviticus 19:34 NKJV
“The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

Galatians 5:13 NKJV
“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

It is pretty easy to love those who are born into your family and those who you have befriended. But it takes a totally different mindset to love strangers, yet that is exactly what the Israelites were told to do. There may not be for them, or for us, any obvious similarities with strangers, no common interests, no blood relationship, no shared language, or mutual culture.

Despite all of those things, the two passages above make it clear that loving others liberates us from those things that hold us in bondage, provides an opportunity to serve, and provides a way for strangers to be included into the community.

Hate, malice, cruelty, meanness, heartlessness are all tools that diminish one’s ability to love. Loving beyond your circle of relatives and friends is liberating. Both the giver and the recipient of love are set free. In their new found freedom, the Israelites were not yet liberated from the psychological bondage. It remained from their centuries of bondage and their treatment as outsiders while they were in captivity in Egypt. The Lord sought to liberate them by challenging them to extend to the strangers among them the love they were denied while in Egypt.

“Just as if” means that they were to treat the stranger as they would their own family. “Just as if” demands love, and the only criteria for “just as if” was that the stranger live among them.

Just think what could be achieved if we treated everyone “just as if” they were a part of our family? What could happen if we took the liberty we have been given and used it to serve others in love? With love as our guiding force, we do not have to know each other to serve each other. The only common denominator is that we love everyone among us “just as if.”

Be Blessed!

Rev. J. Loren Russell is President/CEO of The JLR Company for Church Financial Strategy & Consulting; an associate minister at both Goodwill and The Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx; creator & host of “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” Mondays 8:00 – 10:00 PM on Facebook LIVE and author of Matters of Faith: The Book (eBook available at Smashwords)

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