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Holiness and picking grapes

“When you harvest your crops, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. It is the same with your grape crop—do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners who live among you, for I, the LORD, am your God.” — Leviticus 19:9-10

Linking the holiness of God and picking grapes may be something of a stretch. But God did it, so we need to be stretched.

The holiness of God refers not only to His sinlessness, but more fundamentally to His “otherness.” God declared things such as the ground, special pans, and special days to be holy—not because they were sinless (how could they be?), but because they were separate, set apart, and “special.”

So God, being utterly other and set apart, calls His people to be holy. This does not mean He expects them to be sinless (He knows better!), but He does require them to be “other”—separate, distinct. This includes not engaging in the sinful lifestyles of their neighbors. But what more does this holiness look like?

Holiness is essentially practical. It shows itself in family relationships, in work and rest habits, in neighborliness, and in matters of compassion and justice. This brings us to the grapes.

When the Israelites finally arrived in the Promised Land and enjoyed the vineyards that were already there, they might have gotten so carried away with harvesting their crops that they would overlook the poor who gazed longingly at the abundance while working hard for less than adequate wages. God, who consistently embraces the cause of the underprivileged, stated that some grapes were to be left unpicked specifically for these people, and some crops were to be deliberately left for the benefit of those who had no harvest of their own. To do so was a matter of holiness, because it showed how different God’s people would be from the surrounding nations, who often showed no mercy to the poor. You see, there is a very definite link between being holy and picking grapes!

There’s also a link between holiness and opening doors for old people, picking up beer cans left in the countryside, caring for AIDS patients, reviewing the way you pay your employees, treating a baggage handler with courtesy, and showing respect to a waiter.

In some ways holiness is not easy. But in our culture so many people behave so badly that it’s not very difficult to stand out, to be separate, to be holy—simply by treating people properly!

For further study: Leviticus 19:1-19

Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.