Scripture: from verse 24
He is to restore it in full plus an additional one-fifth; he must return it to the person who owns it, on the day when he presents his guilt offering.
Observation: The verse refers to anything that was obtained deceitfully, whether stolen, extorted, “borrowed,” lied about, etc. The person who took advantage of others is guilty, and a dual restitution is demanded: the guilt offering to be restored to harmony with the Lord, and returning the stolen money or item plus a fine, to be restored to harmony within the community.
God cares about the people around us. God cares that the community of believers lives in harmony. We can’t ignore the people around us and expect to be in God’s will. He loves them too.
Application: Consideration for others tends to be one of my shortcomings, though at least in practical matters like this I think I’m getting a better. (Considerate and positive words tend to be a little tougher for me.) But, easy or hard, keep the peace. Work to stay friends with others unless there’s a very good reason not to. Build the community, don’t tear it down.
Prayer: Father, thank you for loving the people around me. Help me to love them too. Help me to notice when I am hurting others and find ways to restore the relationship. Amen.
Scripture: from verse 9
Remember that in heaven both you and they have the same Master, and He has no favorites.
Observation: This is part of Paul’s advice to slave owners: treat your slaves well and respectfully, because in God’s eyes you’re no better than them. Thankfully we no longer have slavery in most of the world, but this is far from irrelevant.
This sums up the core of how believing communities and relationships should function. God knows me and God loves me. God also knows and loves my husband, my sister, my neighbor, my rabbi, and even the woman who keeps implying that I need to do a better job of keeping Beauty’s curls under control.
So I can share my heart, confident that God will protect me. (Of course, sometimes He protects me by letting me know I shouldn’t share my heart. It’s not like my brain is turned off.) And I can extend grace to people who annoy me, because I know that God loves them and He is fitting them into where they need to be. And I don’t have to fix people, because God has already planned out their trajectory.
If I use on God’s wisdom, I don’t have to rely on my own. Considering how flawed I am, that’s a relief.
Application: Treat others with respect and love. At the End of the Day, we’re all just people. And God loves us.
Prayer: Yeshua, thank you for seeing our hearts and not just our appearance and our actions. Thank you for taking the time to know me. Thank you for not having favorites but for meeting each of us where we are. Amen.
Scripture: from verse 31
…and the two will become one flesh.
Observation: Paul is quoting Genesis 2 here, speaking of a husband and wife coming together. He goes on to say that this is true on two levels: it’s true of individual couples, and it also described a “profound mystery” concerning Messiah and the believers. (There’s one of those places that God’s word is fractal: the little pictures look just like the big pictures.)
But I was thinking about one flesh. Flesh isn’t an amorphous material. It isn’t like clay or bread dough that can be split up and recombined without anyone noticing. Flesh means blood vessels, and muscles and tendons and bones, and nerves and lymph nodes and glands.
So two becoming one isn’t just about emotions or sex or other easy ways of joining. It means joining structures, so that each supports and extends the movements of the other. It means joining circulatory systems, so that oxygen and energy and sickness and healing flow back and forth. Even your proprioceptive sense (the sense that tells you where your body is, allowing you to do things like clap your hands with your eyes closed) and your limbic system (the part of your brain that runs emotions and memory and things) can apply to two people instead of just one.
And that’s what God wants to have with us. Messiah’s lifeblood, flowing through our bodies. Messiah’s power supporting our steps. His desires becoming ours, and ours becoming His.
Yeshua wants to give us the desires of our hearts. He wants to be one flesh with us.
Application: Become one flesh with Yeshua. I’m not really sure how that works with Yeshua, but I know some of how it works in marriage: your spend time together and learn each other and respect and love each other. So spend time with Yeshua and learn about Him – and be open and honest so He can learn you.
Prayer: Yeshua, thank you for offering to be one flesh with us. You could have offered to be our master, or our father, or our owner, and been entirely within your rights – you owe us nothing. But you offered to be one flesh. You offered unity. Help me believe that. Amen.
Scripture: verses 2 and 3
Always be humble, gentle, and patient, bearing with one another in love, and making every effort to preserve the unity the Spirit gives through the binding power of shalom (peace).
Observation: The Spirit of God binds us together. He brings peace, wholeness, unity, and harmony. Our job is to not screw it up.
We do this by being humble (by having a clear understanding of who we are and what we deserve – which apart from God, is no one and nothing), by being gentle (by moderating our behavior and our reactions to what is beneficial for the community) and by being patient (by choosing not to be angry or demanding, but instead of wait and let God work.) This…is not particularly fun. At least not always.
I’m especially not good at gentleness. I don’t know if I’ve gotten worse over the years, but there’s been a couple times recently where my sisters have deliberately cut me off to substitute their own gentler interpretation of the topic at hand. I suspect I’ve just gotten more outspoken, but that’s irrelevant.
On the other hand, the mutual support and fellowship among people who put up with each other out of love is pretty awesome. I’m glad that God gives us unity in the first place.
Application: Be gentle, just like I tell Beauty when she decides to snuggle Kitten. Don’t do things that upset her, as I tell her when she squishes Kitten.
Prayer: Yeshua, help me to love others properly. Help me to see things gently. Amen.