February 26: “Thinking About Immigrants”

7 Minute Read

Today’s Bible Reading:

Leviticus 19:1-20:21
Mark 8:11-38
Psalm 42:1-11
Proverbs 10:17 

Today’s Bible Verse(s):

Leviticus 19:33-34 (NLT): “Do not take advantage of foreigners who live among you in your land. Treat them like native-born Israelites, and love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” 

Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):

Leviticus 19-20 reads like a law book. God gave the Israelites a lot of laws. His purpose was to provide them with a clear understanding of right and wrong so that justice and righteousness would be upheld and people could enjoy living in a morally good society.

One of the commands is particularly relevant to America in the 21st century. It has been at the forefront of America’s attention that millions of people are in our country illegally. American citizens get emotional on both sides of the argument. Some say that illegal immigrants need to leave our country, and others say they have a right to stay.

While we are a nation of laws, and as Christians, we need to live by and uphold those laws, we need to be so careful not to take our moral cues from society instead of God.

Listen to what God told the Israelites regarding how they were to thinking about the foreigners living among them. Realize, as you read the following words, that Israel had no border walls, no office of immigration, or anything of the sort. The foreigners were simply people from another country who chose to move to Israel and begin a new life for themselves without seeking Israel’s permission to do so.

Leviticus 19:33-34 (NLT): “Do not take advantage of foreigners who live among you in your land. Treat them like native-born Israelites, and love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”

Did you get that? The people of God were told to treat foreigners who lived among them (a.k.a. immigrants) with the same kindness they had for their fellow Israelites.

In 2018, I went to Guatemala with a group of Christians. We went to serve in an orphanage and with a church. 

I spent much time talking with my translator, a Guatemalan. At one point in our discussion, we talked about immigration and America. With a sheepish, honest smile, he confided in me that he had thought about joining one of the caravans heading to America a few years earlier. He said that he had contemplated sneaking across our nation’s border.

I tried not to show surprise. I had come to deeply respect this young man. But, I now wondered why he would think it was OK to break my country’s laws.

Yet, as I listened to him, I came to understand how he would have justified sneaking across our nation’s border to work a job and then send money back to his family. His country was corrupt and any attempt he made to gain American citizenship would take a lot of money under the table. But he had heard so many stories of people who had given thousands of dollars to his government and realized too late that they would never become American citizens and never see their money again.

I believe that people should enter our country legally. I also think that there is a national risk in merely allowing anyone to slip into our country unchecked. Yet, I also realize that most of the people who want to come here (even as some of them do so illegally), simply want a better life for themselves and their family. Since the cards are stacked against them, they justify the lesser of two evils.

So, while we strive to be a nation of laws and expect everyone to comply with them, we should also be careful in how we talk about lawbreakers, including illegal immigrants.  

Don’t read amnesty into my comments. I’m not going into the politics and logistics of this matter. I’m merely saying that immigrants are people we are called to love and serve, just as we are called by our Lord to love and serve every single person we meet. 

As followers of Jesus, this isn’t a political matter. It’s a spiritual matter, and our Heavenly Master is watching us.

Matt Ellis is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida (fbcpolkcity.com). His latest book is God’s Grace in the Real World. Connect with him on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.

Photo by Elias Castillo on Unsplash

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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