Faithfully representing the compassion of the Father

Matthew 5:48 – Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Yeshua’s admonition to his disciples is to strive to be perfect, that is fully mature and needing nothing else to be complete, just as God is perfect.

The apostles Paul and James also taught and urged believers to be fully mature and complete in their faith.

Colossians 1:28 – We proclaim him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Messiah.
James 1:2-4 – Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.

If we are to be mature and complete, just as our heavenly Father is, then there may be some wisdom in learning his characteristics of this completeness so we can mimic these characteristics and strive to incorporate them in our lives, as well.

Psalm 145 carries many of these characteristics of God that can provide insight into his nature, and by extension, the types of things that we should be seeking to represent with all others.

Yahweh is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and great in faithful love.

Yahweh is good to everyone; his compassion rests on all he has made.

Yahweh is faithful in all his words and gracious in all his actions.

Yahweh helps all who fall; he raises up all who are oppressed.

All eyes look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time.

You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.

Yahweh is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all his acts.

Yahweh is near all who call out to him, all who call out to him with integrity. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry for help and saves them.

Yahweh guards all those who love him,

but he destroys all the wicked.

Psalm 145:8-9, 13-20

Reflecting on these characteristics of God, we can see that they revolve around compassion and mercy, helping those who are looking to him for help. He is always near to those who are sincerely seeking him, and he is a protector of the faithful. These are ideals that we can easily relate to, as they are centered around “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

However, this psalm also mentions how God is steadfastly firm with those who are “wicked, guilty, and criminal.” The destruction of the wicked is spoken of as a future event, implying that, should they remain in their guilty, criminal state, they will be destroyed. This ultimate destruction is alone the right of God to perform (because he is fully perfect and completely just) while we are only striving for this completeness. We are not qualified for the actual destruction of anyone.

Romans 12:18-19 – If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

Yet, as we grow in maturity and completeness, we have the duty to defend and stand up for what is right, and to destroy those ideals and concepts which are promoted by those who are wicked. This is also an act of compassion, as representing the truth to all provides a pathway for the rebellious to return to him.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 – For although we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh, since the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Messiah.

To be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect, then, is to extend compassion to all men, and yet to remain firm on godly principles, even while loving those who could be considered enemies. This is the role of the believer in this world: representing the characteristics of our heavenly Father by being compassionate and extending love, and the fullness of his truth, to all.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service.

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Personal and private righteous actions for the sake of others

Matthew 6:1-2 – Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

While this passage is typically employed in the service of condemning negative acts of hypocrisy, there is an interesting aspect that highlights the positive aspect of the believers life: practicing private righteousness.

Yeshua here equates giving to those in need as an act of righteousness. When believers are compassionate to others, they are exhibiting their righteousness. To exhibit righteousness is not wrong, in fact, we are supposed to be the “lights of the world” and the “salt of the earth.” However, if we are doing acts of righteousness only for the sake of being seen by others to show them how superior we are for being so righteous, then this steps over into the realm of hypocrisy. This is the main point that Yeshua is attempting to convey.

But I believe the term “practicing or doing righteousness” still carries a lot of beneficial cargo for the believer today. Just because it’s wrong to be an exhibitionist with our righteous acts does not mean we should not still do them. This is why Yeshua says if there is a chance they can be seen by others as hypocritical, to do them outside the purview of others; to do them in secret.

Matthew 6:3-4 – But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

We should attempt to help others and be compassionate in ways that don’t draw attention to ourselves, but that only give glory to God. The reassurance that Yeshua provides is that God still sees those genuine acts of charity, even if no one else does, and he honors the generous heart.

Proverbs 19:17 – Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed.

While there have been many fine organizations and efforts over the years to assist the less fortunate, our ultimate goal should not be to join some charity organization as a means of adding to our “resume of righteousness.” We should find ways to simply give with a willing heart whenever a need arises, and when we are able to do so. This is the authentic way that people receive the real help they need. It is personal because it comes from the heart; it is sacrificial because it takes personal time, effort, and resources; and it is genuine because it is done solely for the benefit of another.

This is the type of righteous compassion that Yeshua encourages and which God blesses. Whenever we exhibit love to others simply for the sake of loving them, we honor God and bring glory to his name.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The distinctive nature and enduring influence of believers

Matthew 5:13 – “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

In the Bible, salt is useful for seasoning food, but also has a symbolic meaning. We read that the sacrifices of the Mishkan, the Tabernacle, were required to have salt included.

Leviticus 2:13 – “You are to season each of your grain offerings with salt; you must not omit from your grain offering the salt of the covenant with your God. You are to present salt with each of your offerings.

In their Old Testament commentary, Keil and Delitzsch write:

The meaning which the salt, with its power to strengthen food and preserve it from putrefaction and corruption, imparted to the sacrifice, was the unbending truthfulness of that self-surrender to the Lord embodied in the sacrifice, by which all impurity and hypocrisy were repelled.

This purifying and preservative effect of salt was widely known and those qualities were symbolically applied to covenants and agreements to demonstrate their enduring nature. Keil and Delitzsch continue:

The salt of the sacrifice is called the salt of the covenant, because in common life salt was the symbol of covenant; treaties being concluded and rendered firm and inviolable, according to a well-known custom of the ancient Greeks (see Eustathius ad Iliad. i. 449) which is still retained among the Arabs, by the parties to an alliance eating bread and salt together, as a sign of the treaty which they had made. As a covenant of this kind was called a “covenant of salt,” equivalent to an indissoluble covenant (Numbers 18:19; 2 Chronicles 13:5), so here the salt added to the sacrifice is designated as salt of the covenant of God, because of its imparting strength and purity to the sacrifice, by which Israel was strengthened and fortified in covenant fellowship with Jehovah.

For Yeshua to apply the symbolism of salt to the life of a believer shows how strongly he views the sacrificial, distinctive, and enduring nature of the believer should be in this world.

The apostle Paul also leverages this imagery when writing to the congregation at Colossae. Salt is used here as a symbol of gracious speech, carrying the idea of extending favor to others.

Colossians 4:5-6 – Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.

The context of Yeshua’s identification of believers as the salt of the earth comes amidst similar admonitions to be the light of the world, being filled with mercy, peace, and humility outlined in the Beatitudes. All of these qualities are demonstrated to have a distinct impact on the world around us: seasoning over flavorlessness; light over darkness. The life of believer is one of curing and preservative influence, a life that makes a difference by simply being what it is. Salt can’t help but be salty; light can’t help but shine. These are the very natures contained within the things themselves that alter whatever they touch or wherever they can be seen.

We are instructed by Yeshua that these qualities of grace and compassion are inherent within believers, and should be the identifying marks that leave changed circumstances and environments in their wake as they travel through this life.

Let us not lose our saltiness and be cast aside; let us strive to be whom God has called us to be, and so honor his name and calling.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Obediently and joyfully assisting those in need

An ancient Jewish proverb states:

The merciful lend to their neighbors; by holding out a helping hand they keep the commandments.

Sirach 29:1

Regarding the commandments of God, one of the most comprehensive passages that was to influence the attitude of God’s people toward the poor among them is summed up in Moses’ declaration to the nation as they are about to cross over into the promised land of Canaan.

Deuteronomy 15:7-11 “If there is a poor man with you, one of your brothers, in any of your towns in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks. Beware that there is no base thought in your heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of remission, is near,’ and your eye is hostile toward your poor brother, and you give him nothing; then he may cry to the LORD against you, and it will be a sin in you. You shall generously give to him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all your undertakings. For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.’

In these commands, Moses encourages them to give generously to the poor, and to not let their hearts be grieved when doing so. Many times, we can follow a command, but we instead do it grudgingly and with the wrong attitude. God desires us to not only be obedient, but cheerfully so.

The intent of Moses’ instruction is echoed by the apostle Paul centuries later:

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 – The point is this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. Each person should do as he has decided in his heart ​– ​not reluctantly or out of compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.

Though the Jewish proverb is lengthy and covers many aspects of the benefits of lending to those in need, in one place it makes the following salient point:

Help the poor for the commandment’s sake, and in their need do not send them away empty-handed. Lose your silver for the sake of a brother or a friend, and do not let it rust under a stone and be lost.

Sirach 29:9-10

In a time when there were no banks or ways of securing money, it was not uncommon to simply bury it. The proverb advises, “don’t let your silver rust under a stone and be lost.” Rather than storing it for future use where it may not last, or may get stolen, let it get some use by those in need of it. It is much more preferable to “lose” your silver for the sake of a brother or a friend than to lose it to someone who may find it under your stone and steal what you were storing for yourself.

Yeshua taught the same principle in his parable about greed and accumulation of wealth.

Luke 12:15-21 – He then told them, “Watch out and be on guard against all greed, because one’s life is not in the abundance of his possessions.” Then he told them a parable: “A rich man’s land was very productive. “He thought to himself, ‘What should I do, since I don’t have anywhere to store my crops? “I will do this,’ he said. ‘I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones and store all my grain and my goods there. “Then I’ll say to myself, “You have many goods stored up for many years. Take it easy; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.” ‘ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is demanded of you. And the things you have prepared ​– ​whose will they be? ‘ “That’s how it is with the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Helping those in need is not only a commandment of compassion to be obeyed, but a privilege and honor in the stewardship of the resources and blessings that God has provided us. Our faithfulness in being happily and freely “rich toward God” rather than rich toward ourselves brings honor to his name, and witnesses that we are truly his disciples abiding by his commandments.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

How the Golden Rule teaches simple respect and compassionate giving

Core of the Bible podcast #36 – How the Golden Rule teaches simple respect and compassionate giving

Today we will be exploring the topic of compassion, and how compassionate actions stem from a root of simple respect for others based on the respect and compassion we have received from God.

Yeshua stated it this way: “Therefore whatever you desire for men to do to you, you shall also do to them; for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12

Of course, we know this as the Golden Rule. Certainly, anything that you wish others would do for you, do in the same manner for them, for this summarizes God’s teachings regarding others.

Applying what we know about ourselves to others

The simplicity and practical wisdom of this maxim is unsurpassed. We are, after all, self-focused by nature, relating to all other things outside of ourselves as to how we are affected or influenced by them. We know what we like, and we know what is offensive to us. We know when we believe our rights have been violated. We believe we know how we should be treated by others.

Since we are so familiar with ourselves and what we believe we deserve, Yeshua uses this innate familiarity with our own perceived deservedness and turns it on its head by suggesting that is the same way we should treat others. Our actions towards others should be based on our own internal sense of justice, fairness, and equity. This is the essence of compassion. Yeshua’s admonition focuses on the positive aspect of doing good for others based on what we know is acceptable, fair, and just in our eyes.

The fact that this teaching also summarizes the torah or instruction of God is of no small importance. Yeshua here defines the role and universality of the Bible message by summarizing its intent: the instruction and example of God should cause us to be equitable and compassionate in all of our relationships.

In the Greek Septuagint version of the scriptures is contained an interesting corollary to this admonition of Yeshua. It is essentially the opposite of his positive focus which reads like this: “What you hate, do not do to others,” (Tobit 4:15). Just like Yeshua’s teaching focuses on the positive, in the same way this idea of not doing to others what you yourself hate focuses on prevention of poor behavior that you recognize is unacceptable to you. If you don’t like being talked over in conversations, don’t do that to others. If you don’t like it when someone cuts you off in traffic, then don’t do that to others. If you don’t like when people talk about you behind your back, then don’t do that to others. What you hate, don’t do to others.

What we can glean from both of these complementary aspects of this teaching (do good to others, and don’t do what you yourself hate) is this: the things we like to experience and the things we feel negatively about can operate as a basic guide of God’s desires for our interactions with other people.

While there are many commands within the Word, or Torah, of God, if there were a command for every single possible error we could commit, the Bible would be a much bigger collection of books than it currently is. The simple fact is, God has built-in a sense of equity and fairness within the human condition. Even if we were to do nothing more than abide by the sense of what we believe inherently is right and wrong  behavior (based on how we would like to be perceived and treated by others), then we will be miles down the road of doing what is right in God’s eyes.

Then, for believers seeking to learn more about God and his expectations for us, our expectations should continually be adjusted and refined to match his, and this feedback loop of doing what’s right in his eyes is enacted. As our actions then become more in tune with his will, we exhibit more compassion with others when we learn and observe just how compassionate God really is with us. It is meant to become a cycle of positive reinforcement, thereby expanding the reach of God’s kingdom and ultimately glorifying him.

Respecting the context of the Golden Rule

The logic of this wisdom of the Golden Rule, “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you,” has been mocked by some who would take a literal rendering to the extreme. “What about individuals who enjoy being harmed by others? Should they go and harm others, because that’s how they would want to be treated?” The folly of this is self-evident: beginning with the premise of a non-universal aberration (those who enjoy harm) leads to a faulty non-universal conclusion.

As is typically the case, this type of flawed reasoning stems from isolating this verse from its surrounding context, which gives a broader understanding of how it is intended to be applied in the first place.

In this passage (Matthew 7:7-12), Yeshua is admonishing his hearers about the benefits of being persistent “askers” when it comes to opportunity and meeting of needs.

Matthew 7:7-8 – “Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

This is a simple progression of logic: Ask-receive, seek-find, knock-receive access. Yeshua is setting up his hearers to understand that just as this is the natural order of things in God’s kingdom, God is willing to provide whatever is needed if only we are persistent in asking. This is exhibited through what can be readily seen in their lives already.

Matthew 7:9-11 – “Who among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? “Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him.

Yeshua’s argument continues, “Since you can see that even unrighteous people know how this system works, then don’t you think God will do the same for us when we we ask? And if God is willing to assist us when we ask, then shouldn’t we do the same with others?”

Matthew 7:12 – “Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you [i.e., when you ask], do also the same for them [when they ask], for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Yeshua is saying that this request-response method is a summary of basically the entire Bible when it comes to compassionate actions. Somebody has a need and makes a request (asking, seeking, knocking) and the need is met (they receive, find, and gain access). This is the very definition of compassion. God does it with us, and we should do it with each other.

Yeshua says, “therefore” because his statement of the Golden Rule summarizes his previous line of reasoning. It’s as if he is saying, “Therefore, because of the examples I just gave you, you should practice the same level of compassion with others.”

That’s why the Golden Rule isn’t meant to be some stand-alone, hypothetical, philosophical statement that can be hijacked for alternative philosophy. It is meant to summarize a simple respect for others when they are in need, which is God’s method for helping all who are in need and asking for assistance. Living by the Golden Rule demonstrates a compassion for others based on the compassion that God himself demonstrates for us.

Our compassion is owed to those in need

To delve a little further into our connection with others and exhibiting compassion in their time of need, we can explore some other passages that deal with a biblical understanding of the Golden Rule and its application.

Proverbs 3:27-28 – When it is in your power, don’t withhold good from the one to whom it belongs.  Don’t say to your neighbor, “Go away! Come back later. I’ll give it tomorrow” ​– ​when it is there with you.

The example here is that a person in need is asking for assistance, and the respondent instead pushes them away and delays providing the need. This may be due to inconvenience at the time, or just a desire to brush them off.

This is very similar to the admonition of the apostle James when he writes:

James 2:15-16 – If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, stay warm, and be well fed,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it?

James is basically saying that if we are not meeting someone’s need when they ask, whether today or tomorrow, what’s the point of our faith?

The Hebrew terms in the Proverbs passage here are interesting, because it implies that the good that is being withheld actually belongs already to the other person, it is due them. The good intention or action you have to offer someone in need is something that in actuality belongs to them already. The passage says they are the “lord” or “owner” of that good which you can bestow. You, therefore, by refraining to do the good, are keeping them from something that is rightfully theirs. When it is in your power to do good to others, you essentially owe it to them. In God’s eyes, they rightfully deserve the good that you can do for them.

Albert Barnes: The precept expresses the great Scriptural thought that the so-called possession of wealth is but a stewardship; that the true owners of what we call our own are those to whom, with it, we may do good. Not to relieve them is a breach of trust.

Pulpit Commentary: We are to do good to those who are in need or deserving of it, whenever we have the means and opportunity…The owners of good are those to whom good is due or belongs either by law or by morality, whether by desert or need…what we possess and is seemingly our own is in reality to be regarded as belonging to others. We are only stewards of our wealth…The meaning of the phrase is, “While it is practicable, and you have the opportunity and means of doing good, do it.” Do not defer, but do good promptly.

This ties in with what Paul writes in Galatians 6:9-10 – Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.

If this is the real state of our obligation in this life, that everything we have is potentially owed to others in need, this should provide a monumental shift in how we interact with those around us.

What capacities and resources do we have that can truly help others?

Do we have talents or skills that can help others? Perhaps we can help to repair things around the home that they are unable to do. We may be able to simply mow the lawn, or run to the grocery store for an elderly neighbor who is unable to do either.

Do we have the financial ability to assist someone else? Whether assisting someone with a utility bill that they can’t pay, or helping them with money towards the purchase of a necessary appliance, if we have the ability to help, we should! According to Proverbs 3:27, we already owe it to them! The Bible teaches us when we do so, we are not really giving just to them, we are ultimately giving to God.

Proverbs 19:17 – Kindness to the poor is a loan to Yahweh, and he will give a reward to the lender.

The word for poor here doesn’t necessarily mean a beggar. The word literally means those who are “dangling, weak or thin.” Certainly, while these words can describe beggars, they imply those who cannot help themselves due to their own weakness or perhaps financial leanness and are hanging by a thread. The word for loan means to join (as with Yahweh) in lending to those in such need, and their need becomes our own. Our participation in true acts of compassion means that we are co-laboring with God in his Creation to see his good kingdom come about. Many times our generosity and provision to others is in reality God’s way of providing for them, and we are merely the instruments of his provision.

Conversely, it is not in our power to give what we don’t have.

Acts 3:6 – But Peter said, “I don’t have silver or gold, but what I do have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk! “

Peter said, “What I do have, I give you.” He didn’t have silver or gold, what the beggar was asking for, but he had something better: he could help him walk! This should be our guide for being compassionate with others. They may be asking for a specific need, but we may only be able to assist in another, perhaps greater, way that helps them even more! This just continues to highlight how we need to learn to get our focus off of ourselves, and learn to perceive the real needs of those around us when they ask us for help.

We shouldn’t be concerned with our lack of ability to give substantially due to the necessity of providing for our own needs. God does not expect us to bankrupt ourselves for the sake of others, otherwise, other people would then need to provide for us. The goal, then, is that our assistance of others comes from the good that we can do, what opportunities we do have, not the ones we don’t.

The future of compassion

Paul writes: 2 Corinthians 8:13-15 – It is not that there should be relief for others and hardship for you, but it is a question of equality. At the present time your surplus is available for their need, so that their abundance may in turn meet your need, in order that there may be equality. As it is written: The person who had much did not have too much, and the person who had little did not have too little.

In this type of scenario, all believers work together, not to a base of uniformity, but from a base of unity. We all have a commitment to the kingdom first, and therefore our personal resources become secondary to the needs of those in the kingdom, those to whom our good is “due.”

The equality of needs would all be met in God’s type of economy. Consider the unity and equality of the early believers:

Acts 4:32-35 – Now the entire group of those who believed were of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but instead they held everything in common. With great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was on all of them. For there was not a needy person among them because all those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the proceeds of what was sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet. This was then distributed to each person as any had need.

Wow, this is a bold example for us. Consider the possibilities if congregations today practiced this type and level of commitment to compassionate provision of others. Those who had multiple homes or additional land or resources would sell them. Those who had income above their needs would cheerfully provide it to the congregation leadership. All of those surplus funds would then be distributed to those in need within the fellowship of believers.

In a capitalist economy with a reliance on self-ownership of property and goods, this can seem like a crazy, left-wing, socialist type of proposition. And yet, as you can see by this very passage in Acts, this is the biblical design for the people in God’s kingdom. One of the primary reasons it seems so strange to us is because we have been raised in a culture that is in many ways fundamentally and diametrically opposed to this type of communal participation and care.

But I’m not talking here about the type of national government system that we should be promoting, not at all. The early believers lived in the Roman economy with all of its faults and shortcomings, and yet “there were no needy among them.” What I am presenting is the biblical model of congregational governance. For this type of system to work, you would really have to trust God and trust your leaders. This is why it can only work with true believers who are committed to following God’s Word by living beyond reproach, and according to his Word.

But I can guarantee you that congregations who truly and faithfully practiced this would explode in growth. As people’s needs would be met, they would become more available to help the needs of others, and so on. Poverty rates would drop and standards of living would rise. Just like those early days in the believers’ congregations, outsiders would take notice and respect their commitment to help one another.

Acts 5:13-14 – No one else dared to join them, but the people spoke well of them. Believers were added to the Lord in increasing numbers ​– ​multitudes of both men and women.

The kingdom of God could be advanced with amazing rapidity, all through the faithfulness of men and women willing to trust God and one another with true acts of compassion.

Summary

Ultimately, since it is God’s design for his kingdom to increase and fill the earth, we can look with eager anticipation toward its fulfillment while continuing to lay its foundations in our current generation. While we may struggle today with our own needs and the needs of others in our current society, we can still demonstrate biblical compassion by abiding by the principles of common respect contained within the Golden Rule. If you like people being nice to you, be nice to them first. If you enjoy being congratulated by others, then look outside your own perspective and do the same to others. If you desire that others provide help to you in your time of need, then find opportunities to do so for others when you are able to do so. If you want people to respect your views, then respect theirs. While you may disagree with their conclusions, they still have the same right to hold their views as you do with your own.

Simple respect solves all interpersonal relationships. Compassionate giving solves the needs of the community. While we may not be able to immediately solve all of the social ills of our current society, this type of simple respect and compassionate giving is how God implores all of us to love one another. When we do so, others will take notice of how our lives are based on different standards, higher standards. And that may be all that’s needed to open a door to sharing the message of the kingdom with them when they ask. And once they ask, and we faithfully respond, then they just need to be willing to receive.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The God of compassion has children of compassion

Genesis 6:5-8 – Then Yahweh saw that the wickedness of mankind was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. So Yahweh was sorry that He had made mankind on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. Then Yahweh said, “I will wipe out mankind whom I have created from the face of the land; mankind, and animals as well, and crawling things, and the birds of the sky. For I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of Yahweh.

As bad as we may think that our societies are today, the generation of Noah’s day was far more corrupt. God had observed that all people had become wayward from the purity and simplicity of the original intent of his Creation. God had created man in his image to rule and reign as righteous representatives over his Creation. Yet, instead, people had chosen to use their gifts and abilities in the service of wickedness and evil.

In his justice and righteousness, God determines the elimination of wicked humans is necessary in order to stop the rampant disobedience and chaos from continuing as it had. However, in his compassion for obedience and righteousness, Noah finds favor in God’s eyes. God enacts a plan that allows his human representatives to continue on the earth, albeit through the family of one righteous and obedient man, Noah.

Throughout the Bible, we find God’s wrath and justice is constantly contrasted with his mercy, grace, and compassion. In fact, this is the very description God provides of himself as he reveals himself to Moses:

Exodus 33:18-19 – Then Moses said, “Please, let me see your glory.” He said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim the name ‘Yahweh’ before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”

Compassion is tied up within the very name or character of God. His presence and revelation of himself is in itself an act of grace and compassion that we may know him more, and learn of his righteous expectations for all mankind. For those of us considering ourselves as a child of God, then we should likewise have grace, mercy, and compassion embedded within every fiber of our being. This should be our demonstration to others that we are truly his children.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The compassionate teacher is always willing and motivated to share

Mark 6:34: “Jesus came out, saw a great multitude, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things.”

The very act of Yeshua teaching the crowds is listed as an act of compassion. Like a flock of sheep who wander around aimlessly and need direction, Yeshua saw the desperate need in the community and compassionately taught them the things of God.

Teaching people the right ways according to God’s revealed word is an honor and a great responsibility.

James 3:1 – Not many should become teachers, my brothers, because you know that we will receive a stricter judgment.

This is based on the principle that Yeshua taught:

Luke 12:48 – “…From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be expected.

Regardless of this important caution, this should not dissuade anyone from compassionately sharing what they have learned with others. We are all growing and moving toward greater and greater truth, and we should always be willing to demonstrate to others what we know and have experienced.

1 Peter 3:15-16 – …in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. Yet do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience…

This indicates that our sharing should be coming from a place of compassionately wanting others to understand more about God‘s purpose and plan, rather than just trying to win arguments about doctrinal minutia.

Bringing people to an understanding of the nature of who God is and what he desires for his people should lead them to a place where God himself teaches and instructs them, and they can then be motivated directly from the heart.

This should be the goal of every teacher of the word: to put themselves out of a job when a follower of Yeshua matures to learn directly from God. However, in another sense, the work is never done, as they should continually reach out to keep the process moving forward with the others who are just beginning to learn the truth about God.

This is our goal and our mission in life, whether we are formally a teacher or not. All believers should desire others to come to the closer knowledge of the truth of God and closer in relationship with him.

Matthew 5:19: “Whoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and teach others to do so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but whoever shall do and teach them shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. “

Our goal should be to bring all people to the place of being able to discern God’s voice. Then will be fulfilled the purpose and plan of God from eternity past.

Hebrews 8:11: “They will not teach every man his fellow citizen,
and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all will know me, from their least to their greatest.”

1 John 2:27: “As for you, the anointing which you received from him remains in you, and you don’t need for anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is no lie, and even as it taught you, you will remain in him.”


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The privilege and responsibility of helping the helpless

To say that God is compassionate is an understatement. All throughout the Bible, God is listed as the merciful one, a God of mercy and compassion.

Jonathan Gill in his Bible exposition states that this type language is not only rich within the pages of scripture, but it’s also all through the Jewish writings:

nothing is more common in Zohar, and the Talmud than to express the Divine Being by no other name, than “the Merciful”; “the Merciful said” so, and so; that is, God: and so the Arabians generally begin their books and chapters with these words, “in the name of God, exceeding merciful”, or “the merciful commiserator”…

The Hebrew word for merciful is defined with some of the following expanded ideas: “to stroke or lovingly caress, or to be secure as within a womb.” Based on these concepts, we can come to understand that to be merciful is to care and protect for another as if that person was their very own helpless child. This refines the definition to the point of a needle: to truly express compassion is to lovingly help those who are helpless.

Almost every biblical reference in a search of the word merciful comes up as a description of God, with only few exceptions.

Proverbs 11:17: “The merciful man does good to his own soul, but he who is cruel troubles his own flesh.”

This proverb speaks of how God rewards the merciful, because in expressing mercy and compassion, a person is reflexively doing what’s best for their own soul, since God will reward them for their faithfulness in caring for those unable to help themselves.

All of Psalm 112 is an ode to the righteous person, the one who fears God and keep his commandments. According to this psalm, this quality of mercy is a predominant aspect of righteous living.

Psalm 112:4-6: “Light dawns in the darkness for the upright, gracious, merciful, and righteous. It is well with the man who deals graciously and lends. He will maintain his cause in judgment. For he will never be shaken. The righteous will be remembered forever.”

As we recognize God’s most dominant quality of mercy and compassion, we should be filled with the same quality as we seek to emulate him. As we are made in his image, we share his qualities, and our responsibility is to reflect those qualities around us in this life.

This is the message that Yeshua encourages us, rather commands us, to be engaged with if we are to be considered children of God.

Luke 6:36: “Therefore be merciful, even as your Father is also merciful.”

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The timeless heritage of compassion

“She opens her arms to the poor; yes, she extends her hands to the needy.”

Proverbs 31:20

The woman of Proverbs 31 has generally been understood to be the example of a faithful wife. But when all of her qualities are viewed holistically, it becomes apparent that it would be highly unusual for one individual to be able to accomplish all of those different tasks successfully and sustainably.

However, if we view this woman from an allegorical perspective of those who are faithful to God, a beautiful picture emerges of responsibilities he has tasked us with in this world.  From this vantage point, we see the various things that we are challenged with in our walk with the Lord. One of the outstanding characteristics displayed here is care and compassion for the poor and needy.

If we view some of these terms a little more closely, we find that the meanings extend farther than what we might just consider to be those who are beggars hoping for handouts, or homeless individuals and families camped alongside the road. The word for poor can mean those who are depressed in mind or circumstance, or who are afflicted in some way. The needy can be more fully described as those who have a sense of want either in physical needs, but even in feelings. Based on these descriptions, it becomes apparent that there are likely many individuals who cross our paths who would qualify for our assistance in meeting those various levels of need.

Caring for the poor is a quality that is evident all throughout the biblical narrative.

Deuteronomy  15:11: “For the poor will never cease out of the land: therefore I command you, saying, You shall surely open your hand to your brother, to your needy, and to your poor, in your land.”

Proverbs 14:21: “He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who has pity on the poor.”

Proverbs 14:31: “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for his Maker, but he who is kind to the needy honors him.”

Proverbs 19:17: “He who has pity on the poor lends to Yahweh; he will reward him.”

Especially evident within the teaching and practice of Yeshua, he makes it clear that there will always be a contingent of people who will be considered disadvantaged in some way, and we are encouraged to be helpful to them in ways that provide real relief.

Mark 14:7: “You always have the poor with you, and you can do what is good for them whenever you want…

Luke 14:12-14: “He also said to the one who had invited him, “When you make a dinner or a supper, don’t call your friends, nor your brothers, nor your kinsmen, nor rich neighbors, or perhaps they might also return the favor, and pay you back. But when you make a feast, ask the poor, the maimed, the lame, or the blind; and you will be blessed, because they don’t have the resources to repay you. For you will be repaid in the resurrection of the righteous.””

The apostle Paul reminds the Galatian congregation of their responsibility as he shares his deep desire to fulfill this ongoing command.

Galatians 2:10: “They [James, Peter, and John] only asked us to remember the poor — which very thing I was also zealous to do.”

Exhibiting compassion on the poor and needy has been a marker of the faithful all throughout the Bible. In view of the expanded definitions of the poor and needy to include all of those who are suffering from more than just physical or financial destitution, we would do well to remember that we have real responsibilities outside of our own selfish wants and needs. As God’s representatives in each generation, it’s up to us to set the example in our respective societies and generations. We honor our Creator when we honor all of those whom he has created through genuine compassion for their genuine needs.

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Exhibiting the compassion of a parent with a child

“Like a father has compassion on his children,
so Yahweh has compassion on those who fear him.”

Psalm 103:13

Almost every mention of compassion in the Old Testament is about God’s compassion toward his people. God is frequently depicted as a loving God who, like a father caring for a child, provides for the needs of his people in a gentle and caring manner.

Isaiah 49:15: ““Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yes, these may forget, yet I will not forget you!”

Psalm 103:13: “Like a father has compassion on his children, so Yahweh has compassion on those who fear him.”

The apostle Paul carries this idea into the New Testament as he quotes from the Septuagint, keeping this image of God as the Father of all those who believe.

2 Corinthians 6:18: “I will be to you a Father. You will be to me sons and daughters,’ says the Lord Almighty.”

The picture of a parent with a child helps us to more fully understand the compassion of God towards his people. A baby has no ability to help itself in any aspect of its life, whether being fed, changed, dressed, or comforted; all these things require someone else’s help and assistance.

It is small wonder than that God chooses to use this image as a way of describing his care for his people. As a parent tenderly cares for the needs of a helpless child, so God watches over those who call him Father.

Similarly, we are expected to demonstrate the same level of compassion to our own believing brothers and sisters, as well as to everyone else.

Colossians 3:12: “Put on therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, and perseverance…”

We can obtain a better grasp of the type of compassion God intends us to have with others by using the picture of a parent with a child. What physical or emotional requirements do they have? How can we make up for what they lack? In what practical ways can we comfort them?

This simple thought exercise may prompt us to evaluate how we connect with people and to truly reflect on the levels of compassion we are expected, as God’s people, to demonstrate in this world.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.