What does a holy person look like? Do you picture a priest or a nun? Maybe a preacher? Perhaps you imagine a Chassidic Jew with a full beard, side locks and black hat. Leviticus 19-20 contains the Bible's description of what holiness looks like.
The passage begins with the words, "Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, 'You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy'" (Leviticus 19:2).One of the laws of holiness states, "You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another" (Leviticus 19:11).
Have you ever been ripped off by a religious person? It's not surprising when we are cheated by people of the world. But it is disconcerting when a professing Christian or an observant Jew deceives or financially abuses us. We expect more from the religious person than a secular person. We assume that a religious person will conduct his affairs in concert with his moral values. That makes the religious person different from the secular person. That's what being holy is all about.
The Torah says that when a religious person conducts himself without integrity, he profanes the name of God. The word profane is the opposite of the word holy. Holy means "set apart." Profane means "common and ordinary." When a religious person conducts himself no differently than the common, ordinary people around him, he makes God look common and ordinary too. He damages God's reputation. An unbeliever who steals, deceives, lies, perjures and swindles is unremarkable, but when a believer acts that way, he disgraces the faith and gives opportunity for unbelievers to say, "You see? He is just like us. I knew there was no substance to his God or his religion."
The sages understood the commandment, "You shall not oppress your neighbor, nor rob him" (Leviticus 19:13) to be a prohibition against dishonest business transactions. As disciples of Yeshua obedient to God's Torah, we need to strive for scrupulous honesty, especially in matters of business.