“Do not eat meat that has not been drained of its blood.
“Do not practice fortune-telling or witchcraft.
“Do not trim off the hair on your temples or trim your beards.
“Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos. I am the Lord.
“Do not defile your daughter by making her a prostitute, or the land will be filled with prostitution and wickedness.
“Keep my Sabbath days of rest, and show reverence toward my sanctuary. I am the Lord.
“Do not defile yourselves by turning to mediums or to those who consult the spirits of the dead. I am the Lord your God.
“Stand up in the presence of the elderly, and show respect for the aged. Fear your God. I am the Lord.
“Do not take advantage of foreigners who live among you in your land. Treat them like native-born Israelites, and love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.
“Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight, or volume. Your scales and weights must be accurate. Your containers for measuring dry materials or liquids must be accurate. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt.
“You must be careful to keep all of my decrees and regulations by putting them into practice. I am the Lord.”
Some people think the Bible is nothing but a book of don’ts. But Jesus neatly summarized all these rules when he said to love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. He called these the greatest commandments of all (Matthew 22:34-40). By carrying out Jesus’ simple commands, we find ourselves following all of God’s other laws as well. For Jesus, this included loving the elderly and foreigners—people routinely overlooked and taken advantage of.
People often find it easy to dismiss the elderly and avoid taking time to visit with them. But the fact that God commanded the Israelites to honor the elderly shows how seriously we should take the responsibility of respecting those older than we are. We may even be surprised by the wisdom they’ve gained from their experiences.
How do you feel when you encounter foreigners, especially those who don’t speak your language? Are you impatient? Do you think or act as if they should go back where they came from? Are you tempted to take advantage of them? God says to treat foreigners as you’d treat fellow countrymen, to love them as you love yourself. In reality, we are all foreigners in this world because it is only our temporary home. View strangers, newcomers, and foreigners as opportunities to demonstrate God’s love.
How can you love God with all your “heart”? Who are the people overlooked around you? Loving them may be inconvenient or undesirable, but God wants to love them and you can be part of showing them his love.