The importance of this command is underscored by our Lord himself (Mt 22:39; Mk 12:31), along with Paul (Rom 13:9; Gal 5:14) and James (Jas 2:8).
Love for neighbour is presented in Leviticus 19 as highly practical, and covers five areas of everyday life.
1. Loving others with our possessions, Lev 19:9-11.
The practice of gleaning requires not only generosity on the part of the landowner but industry on the part of the poor. But,
‘The main lesson to be learned is that God’s people are to be generous. The principle for us is this: We must deliberately plan our financial lives so that we have extra left over to give to those in need. Don’t reap to the edge of your fields. And don’t spend all your money on yourself. Think of those who have less than you, and let some of your wealth slip through your fingers. In other words, don’t be stingy. Don’t get every last grape off the vine for yourself. Let others benefit from your harvests. As Paul puts it in the New Testament, we should work hard so that we “may have something to share with anyone in need” (Eph. 4: 28).’
2. Loving others with our words, Lev 19:11-12.
Two areas of life – business and the law courts – are picked out for special mention, because they are two areas where truthfulness are likely to be at a premium. The first command here prohibits stealing:
‘But the context suggests that the stealing is taking place by lying, people dealing falsely with each other, as in a business setting. By contrast, God’s people love others by telling the truth in their transactions. No cheating scales, weights, or measurements (vv. 35– 36).’
As for the law courts:
‘Especially in a day without surveillance cameras or DNA testing or tape recording, everything depended on witnesses. That’s why bearing false witness is such a serious crime in the Bible. Someone’s life could literally be ruined by a simple lie. Love— whether for our neighbors or for our enemies— demands that we are careful with our words.’
3. Loving others by our actions, Lev 19:13-14.
In a culture where one’s daily food was often earned on a day-by-day basis, is was vital that a worker received his proper wage at the end of the day. James 5:1-6 picks up this theme:
‘The rich, James says, were living in self-indulgent luxury. These were not the sorts of riches that they plowed back into the company in order to hire more workers. These riches were the ill-gotten kind. The rich had kept back by fraud the wages of the laborers. The injustice James rails against was not because of a relatively low wage or because there was a disparity between rich and poor. The injustice was that the rich had hired help for the harvest, but refused to pay them (v. 4).’
There is, of course, a wider principle that is taught by these two verses in Leviticus: God’s people must not take advantage of the weak, the vulnerable, the disadvantaged:
‘Don’t curse the deaf, even if they can’t hear you. Don’t put a stumbling block before the blind, even if they won’t know who did it. God knows. If others don’t know the language in your country, or don’t understand the system, or don’t have the connections, they should elicit our compassion and generosity, not our desire to make a buck at their expense.’
4. Loving others in our judgments, Leviticus 19:15-16.
We should apply the law (and, more widely, moral principles) without partiality. In church life, we should not defer to the wealthy and influential for fear of losing their support. Nor should we defer, in a dispute about money, to the less well-off because they are in greater need. Charity and generosity are certainly called for, but not at the expense of what is just and fair. Justice calls for
‘equal treatment and a fair process. No bribes. No backroom deals. No slanderous judgments. No breaking your promises. No taking advantage of the weak. That’s what the Bible means by social justice…Justice means there should be one standard, one law, for anyone and everyone, not different rules for different kinds of people.’
5. Loving others in our attitude, Lev 19:17-18.
Love is practical, but it also has an affective dimension. ‘You shall not hate your brother in your heart.’ Love should be heartfelt, not a pretence. If we are angry with a brother, we should face up to our feelings and try to work things out with him.
‘We are responsible not just to treat our neighbors rightly, but to take the necessary steps so that our hearts can feel rightly toward them as well.’
‘this great commandment to love your neighbor as yourself— this commandment quoted in the New Testament more than any other— boils down to five very elementary, everyday, ordinary commands: share, tell the truth, don’t take advantage of the weak, be fair, talk it out. Simpler than you might think. But still easier said than done.’
Kevin DeYoung, Greg Gilbert. What Is the Mission of the Church? Crossway. Kindle Edition.