"The stranger within thy gates"

The word stranger is of diverse meanings. In the Scriptures it frequently alludes to an enemy or to a member of a different tribe who was to be watched or guarded against. In numerous other instances it refers to a so-journer who, being on friendly terms, is entitled to respect and consideration. In its most common usage it means one who is unacquainted or unknown. In any case the lot of a stranger could hardly be called a pleasant one. He is at least under suspicion in one instance and is as one apart in another. Being absent from acquaintances and familiar places often engenders loneliness, homesickness, and discontent. Understanding is put to a severe test when called upon to rise superior to sense testimony, as sometimes happens when one finds himself a stranger in a strange land.

Scattered throughout the Bible and particularly in the books of Moses are many commands relative to the treatment of strangers. Even the most casual reading of these passages must prove convincingly that Love has ever been mindful of the peculiar position of the well-intentioned stranger within the gates. In the twenty-second chapter of Exodus the Hebrews are thus admonished: "Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt;" and in the twenty-third chapter the command is repeated, with these words in addition: "For ye know the heart of a stranger." This was undoubtedly meant to remind the people of their own loneliness while so-journing in foreign lands, that they might have regard for the sensibilities of those who should, perchance, come to dwell among them. Based on reciprocal love this was similar to, if not identical with, the charge given centuries later by the Master, and which has come to be accepted and known as the golden rule, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them."

Righteous Judgment
September 13, 1919

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