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March 6, Day #66 – Our Attention to Detail is Required

Today we come to Leviticus 13 which is a long chapter that contains the regulations that related to various infectious skin diseases that might crop up within the camp of the Israelites. These skin diseases included sores, spots, rashes, swellings, raw flesh, burns, blemishes, and other possible ailments that could affect the skin. Why such a concern about human skin? First of all, we must remember that God provided the entire law as a protection against potential harm, whether physical or spiritual. All physical ailments are the product of something that has gone wrong, which relates to our greater problem - sin. Sin has affected the entire universe (cf., Romans 8:22). Skin is the largest of all human organs, and it covers the greatest area of the body – parts of which are exposed and visible – so the skin requires special care and particular treatment. Our skin communicates a lot to others about us. That being true – whether we like it or not – our skin and its condition naturally becomes a source for certain judgments about us – what people see and feel is important. Humans can transmit illness and disease through skin contact, so caring properly for our skin is very important to God and should be important to us. For example, under the law, lepers had to warn others verbally and by their dress about their infectious condition to prevent transmission of serious diseases (cf., Leviticus 13:45-46). Verses 47-59 contain the regulations about mildew and mold – conditions which also have serious respiratory implications.

In Proverbs 6:20-29, we see a strong biblical injunction against adultery. Like leprosy and other infectious skin diseases, adultery adulterates (i.e., pollutes) something that God meant for beauty – the marriage relationship of one man and one woman. Adultery introduces something foreign, toxic, and impure to that relationship – something that is not meant to be there. Once that toxin is introduced, the marriage relationship can never retain its original beauty – it has become marred. The writer of Proverbs says, “this teaching is a light” (verse 23), and he counsels, “the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life … can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?” (verses 26-27). Adultery is lethal, and “a man who commits it lacks judgment and destroys himself” (verse 32).

In Mark 12:28-44, at the request of “one of the teachers of the law” (verse 28), we see Jesus teaching about the greatest of all the commandments. He said, “The Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is to love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these” (verses 30-31). In this section, Jesus refers nine times to the word all (cf., verses 28, 30, and 33). From this teaching, we glean that, to walk properly with God, we must (1) guard our hearts; (2) love the Lord wholly with our hearts; (3) attend to [i.e., focus on] our hearts; (4) give from our hearts; and (5) keep our hearts holy [i.e., pure]. Each of these reminders – consistent with our readings in the books of Leviticus, Psalms, and Proverbs - constitutes a deliberate and practical step in a process that we must follow if we are to be holy and to walk with and please God. We are commanded to do this. Although these steps may seem like reasonable and tidy little maxims to employ, they nevertheless require rigorous – yes, even moment by moment - discipline. Consider that we can never let our guard down or lose our focus. We cannot love the Lord with a heart that is less than completely committed to Him. Anything given half-heartedly is extended only begrudgingly; maintaining a pure heart only summarizes the meaning of all these previous disciplines, and it requires our constant, detailed attention.

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