The Direction of Holiness: Leviticus 19

Leviticus 19:9-10 (ESV)

9 “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. 10 And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.

In defining holiness, traditional views define it as separation and/or moral purity. Thus we see Scriptural references referring to believers as “set apart” for the work of God (Leviticus 11:45; 19:2; Numbers 15:40; Romans 12:1; 1 Corinthians 3:17; Ephesians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:7; 2 Timothy 2:21; 1 Peter 1:15-16). If we were to envision what a holy person would be like, we often think of them in terms of someone who is a church-goer, who reads their Bible, and who prays a lot. Such a person, we imagine, has a deep desire to draw closer to God and is faithful in their daily devotion. This type of person is one who consistently looks upward, towards God.

If we turn to the book of Leviticus, however, we see that holiness is more than just about our relationship with Him. Holiness should also reflect by the fruit we bear as a result of this relationship—in other words, it’s not just an upward relationship, but an outward one as well. The more we can reflect the character of God in our own actions, the more we demonstrate the holiness of our Lord.

In Leviticus 19:9, God instructs Israel not to reap the corners of the field or go over the vineyards a second time to pick up the fallen grapes. Why? To allow the poor, the widowed, and the sojourner to have a source of food. When we adorn ourselves in holiness, we also will have compassion on the poor and those in need. This is such a wonderful example of a simple act on the part of man that reflects God’s holiness. In fact, the entire 19th chapter of Leviticus is a roadmap for reflecting holiness.

When we act in compassion, we are acting in a way that imitates Christ. Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus was a model of compassion, truth, and love. When we wish to embody holiness, His example should lead us to act accordingly whenever and wherever we can. It’s not just in helping a specific group of people, but our holiness should also be reflected in our every encounter with one another, inside the church or outside among the lost. Whatever we post to social media, tweet, or email should reflect this same character of being set apart for God’s purpose. Consider this the next time someone cuts you off while driving, or jumps in line in front of you. It's easy to see that the quality of holiness is not something that comes easy in our earthly bodies--yet as God's elect we are commanded to be so.

When we live out such a life that displays God’s character in us, the narrow road takes us right to Jesus. If your holiness is currently only focused upward, I encourage you to consider extending it outward as well.

Finally, review the passages I listed above for a good daily devotion on what it means to be holy.