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You shall not eat anything that dies of itself; you may give it to the alien who is within your gates, that he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner; for you are a holy people to the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 14:21)

There is an interesting comment in Jewish commentary where this particular command is concerned that I believe is of interest to us as followers of Messiah. According to one Jewish writer, the verse hints at the need to be considerate of others who do not believe as we do, or who may walk out their faith differently where some matters are concerned. The commentator says:

“Holiness requires people to be sensitive to the strictures adopted by others, so that they should not permit such things – even though they may be halachically (lawfully) permitted – in the presence of others who do not use them.”

Putting it another way, holiness requires us to be sensitive to those around us so as not to cast a stumbling block before them. Something may be lawful, technically speaking, but certain things might create issues between you and a brother who, in the pursuit of holiness, feels you should not do that. It can be that certain things might be offensive to some who are weaker (younger) in the faith, and thus, we who are more mature need to be considerate of that. In the context of food and the Hebrew concept of נבלה n’velah (mentioned in the previous devotion), those animals would be “lawful” but not profitable, necessarily.

I think that this is exactly what Paul was getting at when he said, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.” (1 Corinthians 10:23-24).

The point he was making, and the point we are making, is that our actions — for good or bad — have the power to impact someone else. Therefore, we must be careful to make sure that what we do, and what we do not do, has a positive influence on others. We’ve always told our children that just because one has the right to do something doesn’t mean its the right thing to do. And so as we strive for holiness, let us keep in mind that a holy people are to be a holy example.

Blessings and Shalom,  




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