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Inverse Psychology

Leviticus 25:35-36
“If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you.”

If God hadn’t already relayed His extravagant benevolence to sojourners on multiple occasions throughout Genesis and Exodus, I might’ve read Leviticus 25:35 and thought Moses had gotten the lines backwards. It seems like this law should read, “If a sojourner becomes poor … support him as though he were a brother,” because we instinctively care for kin more than we do strangers, don’t we? Even if we spend our whole lives fighting with our siblings, we still know deep down in our heart of hearts that we should take care of them in their need. But that isn’t exactly the case with strangers. Even in simpler times of American history, days when highways were outlined by raised thumbs of hitchhikers, I doubt many Christians offered free room and board to the strangers along with free rides.

But God often reverses our innate sense of ethics in order to progress it, doesn’t He? Think of the way Christ did this to deepen His disciples’ understanding. When He heard Peter, James, and John fighting over who’d be greatest in the Kingdom, He grabbed a towel, got down on His knees, and began washing their feet. He taught them along the way that the greatest among men must be the least, that a Good Shepherd doesn’t exploit His sheep but lays down His life for them, and that those who seek to be first will be last.

To the saints in this commonwealth who feel more compassion toward refugees than their annoying brothers and sisters, God says, “Love your siblings as strangers.” To those who swear loyalty to family no matter the cost, but who keep their doors closed to outsiders, God says, “Welcome the stranger as your own kin.” And to those who strive to protect their own interests at all costs, who feel compassion for neither brother nor stranger, God says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Sanctification takes the lowest priority on our list, the one at the very bottom that we think nothing of, and moves it to the top.