During World War I, German and English soldiers were locked in battle on the Western Front. Thousands of troops on both sides had been killed, and any kind of understanding between the bitter enemies seemed impossible. Yet, on Christmas Day of 1914, something remarkable happened. Soldiers on both sides emerged from their trenches and celebrated Christmas together, singing carols and even engaging in a game of football. For a brief moment, Christmas helped enemies remember their shared values and humanity.

We see a similar dynamic at work in how Israel was commanded to interact with foreigners. The Old Testament is often viewed as being harsh towards people outside of Israel, yet we read in today’s passage that God loves foreigners and provides them with “food and clothing” (Deuteronomy 10:18). What’s more, He commanded Israel to love foreigners as well (Deuteronomy 10:19).

It’s fascinating to consider why Israel was to love foreigners. It wasn’t because they were superior in some way—Israel was chosen only because of God’s loving purposes (Deuteronomy 10:15). No, Israel was to love foreigners because they were once foreigners in the land of Egypt, where they experienced oppression and violence. It’s because of this mutual experience of the hardship of being a foreigner that they were called to empathize with and love those who seemed different from themselves.

It would be easy to care for foreigners for the wrong reasons—perhaps only because we believe they’re needy. But let’s love them because God loves them, and because we’re not so different from them. We share much with one another, especially our Father in heaven, who created each and every one of us and calls us to deeper intimacy with Him (Acts 17:26-28).

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Luke 9:28-45