Open to Outsiders

11.27.23 Devo Image

“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”—Leviticus 19:33–34 (NIV)

If I were to ask you to show me somewhere in the Bible where God’s love is on full display, you probably wouldn’t point me to the Book of Leviticus. In case you aren’t aware, Leviticus is primarily filled with God’s instructions for the priestly line (the Levites) of ancient Israel. There’s a lot of directions on how to offer sacrifices, ceremonial washings, tests for leprosy, and many other details under the Levitical system that God put into place immediately after He delivered Israel out of Egypt. 

Leviticus is sort of a “rule book.” Again, not the place you’d really go to for an epiphany of the love of God. And yet, that’s exactly what we get here in this passage from Leviticus—we get a glimpse of God’s love, not just for the people of Israel, but for the world as a whole. 

Keep in mind, when the Lord rescued Israel out of Egypt, they were an oppressed and enslaved people for several generations. The Bible doesn’t fill in all the details of what life must have been like for an Israelite in Egypt during this time. But human nature being what it is, we can conclude that they suffered the same atrocities that every other oppressed people group has endured in our world’s sad history. In fact, in the few verses that have given us some details of this time, we see an Egyptian proclaiming genocide against all newborn boy Israelites (Exodus 1:16)! 

All of this to say, life was brutal for Israelites in Egypt. Their value and dignity as human beings was an afterthought and they were treated accordingly. And their experience was generations old—imagine what that would do to your outlook on others and on the rest of the world. A hostile and closed-off mentality towards all outsiders would inevitably take root. 

But such a mindset was not to define God’s people because it doesn’t define God. His love extended then, and it continues to extend to every single soul. Nobody was or is “off limits” to His compassion. He wanted that same love woven into the nation that was to represent Him, even for those they’d be tempted to adopt an attitude against. 

This is why the command is given here in Leviticus to accept and treat foreigners with the same love and respect shown to anyone else (all foreigners also had to obey God’s guidelines). Israel was to love regardless of nationality or pedigree, including Egyptians, because that was the truest reflection of their God’s heart.

Although times have changed, and God’s now revealing Himself to the world through His church instead of the nation of Israel, the principle still applies. Sadly, “church people” can get into a routine of huddling up and closing themselves off to the proverbial “outsiders” who don’t share their belief in Jesus. We can adopt and “us and them” attitude that tends to grow in that fallen part of our heart. Yet such an attitude is the direct opposite of all that Jesus is! As Christians, we need to continually remind ourselves that our God has always had an open heart to the spiritual foreigner, and so should we. For then and only then do we truly represent and reflect Him.     

Pause: How does God display His love here in the Book of Leviticus? 

Practice: Reflect on a time when you were tempted to adopt an attitude towards outsiders contrary to God’s love. How did you respond? What did God reveal to you? 

Pray: Lord, we confess that we’re prone to be those who want to shut out the spiritual foreigner and to ostracize the outsider. But we also confess that You are not like that, and that You call us to a different way of life and a different reality of love for the world. Fill us with Your love so we can reflect You as You deserve to be known and seen by the world. We bring this prayer to You in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

About the Author

Pastor Dan Hickling

Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.