Consistent compassion based on love for God

The heart of the Bible lies in the simplicity of its core message.

The heart of the Bible lies in the simplicity of its core message.

There are two great summaries in the Bible of the conduct that
God expects of mankind. To believers in Messiah, one of them comes to the surface of our thinking rather easily.

Matthew 22:35-40 – And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test him: “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest? ” He said to him, “Love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. “This is the greatest and most important command. “The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. “All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

According to Yeshua, to love God and to love our neighbor is the summary of all of the Law and the Prophets. However, there is another summary in the Old Testament that was spoken to the nation of Israel during one of their most turbulent times in their history.

The second of the great summaries of conduct that God expects of people occurred just prior to the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C. A prophet by the name of Micah was tasked with lining out the sins of the nation as a witness against them of the impending judgment of God. The book of Micah is one long condemnation of their idolatrous and ungodly practices. Yet, even amidst the darkness of their actions, Micah provides a glimmer of insight: they ultimately knew the right thing to do but insisted on their own ways instead. He ironically presents their case as sarcastically asking, “What does God expect of us? Sacrifices of our animals or even the first born of our children?”

Micah 6:6-7 – What should I bring before Yahweh when I come to bow before God on high? Should I come before him with burnt offerings, with year-old calves? Would Yahweh be pleased with thousands of rams or with ten thousand streams of oil? Should I give my firstborn for my transgression, the offspring of my body for my own sin?

To this foolish complaint, the prophet Micah provides the bedrock of God’s just judgment:

Micah 6:8 – Mankind, he has told each of you what is good and what it is Yahweh requires of you: to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah then states what they already knew but were choosing to ignore. They were simply to perform true justice, to seek after merciful interactions with one another, and to be humble in their godly walk. Is this not saying the same thing as “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself?”

Micah could say that God had shown them what was good and what Yahweh expected of them, because he already had during the time of Moses.

  • Deuteronomy 6:5 – “Love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
  • Deuteronomy 10:12 – “And now, Israel, what does Yahweh your God ask of you except to fear Yahweh your God by walking in all his ways, to love him, and to worship Yahweh your God with all your heart and all your soul?
  • Leviticus 19:15 – “Do not act unjustly when deciding a case. Do not be partial to the poor or give preference to the rich; judge your neighbor fairly.
  • Deuteronomy 5:20-21 – “Do not give dishonest testimony against your neighbor. “Do not covet your neighbor’s wife or desire your neighbor’s house, his field, his male or female slave, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
  • Leviticus 19:18 – “Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am Yahweh.

When Yeshua stated the greatest commands, he was simply quoting Moses. This then, demonstrates how this simple principle of loving God and loving one’s neighbor is consistent throughout all of Torah: from Moses, to the Prophets, and into the New Testament with the teaching of Yeshua. This is the very basis, and the goal, of all biblical teaching.

If we are truly to love our neighbor, we must act in just ways, doing what is right by them according to God’s Word. We must also love them by demonstrating mercy when it is in our power to do so. And we must act in these ways with humility because of our respect and honor for God as we seek to walk in his ways.

1 John 4:7 – Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Intentional compassion stemming from our common bond with others

As God showed compassion to us, we are commanded to show compassion to others.

Core of the Bible podcast #71 – Intentional compassion stemming from our common bond with others

Today we will be looking at the topic of compassion, and how in allowing for gleaning of their fields, ancient Israel was making a statement that they would not be repeating the class abuse they had suffered in a foreign country. They were instead showing intentional and purposeful compassion to those in need.

Deuteronomy 24:19, 22 – “When you are harvesting your crops and forget to bring in a bundle of grain from your field, don’t go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. Then Yahweh your God will bless you in all you do. … Remember that you were slaves in the land of Egypt. That is why I am giving you this command.”

Because ancient Israel was an agricultural society, there are many laws that apply specifically to that type of culture. Gleaning of the vineyards is one of those unique instructions, but one that I believe we can still learn from and apply today.

So, what is gleaning of the fields? When a field was harvested, sometimes the fruit or grain that was not quite ripe was left on the vine or the tree, with the idea that the harvesters would come back through the field at a later time to ensure all of the harvest was brought in. However, God instructs the Israelites to leave what remained for those less fortunate in the land. After the main harvest, the poor class without income, typically widows, orphans, and resident outsiders, would be allowed to enter the fields of the wealthy and essentially scrounge whatever was left for themselves. In this way, the wealthy in the land would be assisting in providing for the literal welfare of those who could not provide for themselves.

Throughout the Torah, or instruction of God, he has commanded his people to take note of the poor and help them, and in doing so one will be blessed.

Psalm 41:1 – Blessed is he who considers the poor; Yahweh will deliver him in time of trouble.

Deuteronomy 15:7-8, 10-11 – “If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which Yahweh your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, “but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs. … “You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing Yahweh your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. “For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’

God desires to bless the poor through those of his people who have something to share, and when they are faithful in doing so, it is as if they are giving to God himself.

Proverbs 19:17 – He who has pity on the poor lends to Yahweh, And he will pay back what he has given.

Conversely, God has always cautioned against exploiting, taking advantage of, or ridiculing the poor.

Proverbs 14:31 – He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, But he who honors Him has mercy on the needy.

Proverbs 17:5 – He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker; He who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.

Proverbs 22:16 – He who oppresses the poor to increase his riches, And he who gives to the rich, will surely come to poverty.

Additionally, according to God’s pleading through his prophet Isaiah, providing for the needs of the poor is considered a type of metaphorical fasting; a sacrifice that God honors above the hypocritical self-denial of food that the Israelites in Isaiah’s day had only participated in for their own benefit.

Isaiah 58:1, 3-5 – “Cry out loudly [Isaiah], don’t hold back! Raise your voice like a trumpet. Tell my people their transgression and the house of Jacob their sins… [Yet Israel says,] “Why have we fasted, but you have not seen? We have denied ourselves, but you haven’t noticed! ” [God replies,] “Look, you do as you please on the day of your fast and oppress all your workers. You fast with contention and strife to strike viciously with your fist. You cannot fast as you do today, hoping to make your voice heard on high. “Will the fast I choose be like this: A day for a person to deny himself, to bow his head like a reed, and to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast and a day acceptable to Yahweh?”

The type of fasting that the leaders in Israel were conducting were only based on their own desire for God’s favor, not for truly being repentant. In response, God tells them the true type of sacrifice he was seeking in them: justice and compassion for those in need.

Isaiah 58:6-7 – “Isn’t this the fast I choose: To break the chains of wickedness, to untie the ropes of the yoke, to set the oppressed free, and to tear off every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, to bring the poor and homeless into your house, to clothe the naked when you see him, and not to ignore your own flesh and blood?”

And the promise was if they were to do so sincerely, he would then pour out his blessings upon them, the very thing they were hoping for through their own private and personal fasting.

Isaiah 58:10 – “and if you offer what you have to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted one, then your light will shine in the darkness, and your night will be like noonday.”

God was promising a blessing of recompense that would be poured out if they would simply obey his command to help the poor. Becoming a shining light is imagery that speaks to the exemplary status that would result for his people when they were faithful in carrying out what he asked.


Beyond the general Torah commands to provide for the poor of the land, what I find interesting about the command of God to allow for gleaning of the fields is that God also provides the reasoning behind it. They were to be obedient in this way, not just so they would be blessed and become a positive example to the rest of the world, but it was to be a reminder to themselves of their previous slavery in Egypt. This act of compassion was to prevent them from abusing the lowest class, because they had previously collectively been in that situation in Egypt. Therefore, as they practiced this compassion within their society, they would be honoring the memory of their ancestral bondage and making a statement that they would not be repeating the class abuse they had suffered in a foreign country with those among their own land.

In like fashion, I believe we should take this ideal to heart and put into practice actions that can be equivalent in our day and age.

Firstly, this command should encourage us to maintain a mentality that is supportive all classes of people in our society. Unless we are among the ultra-wealthy, as a working class we need to consider how slender the line is between being solvent and becoming bankrupt ourselves. For some there may only be a few months or weeks of hardship that can transition them to a similar status. This understanding should prompt us to act compassionately, as we ourselves could easily be in a similar situation. Yeshua’s command to “do unto others as you would have them do to you” should provide an appropriate response on our part.

Secondly, we should be intentional about contributing to those among the lowest classes of our culture. Whether it is through volunteering in local events or organizations designed to provide assistance, or whether it is contributing to those types of causes through our abundance, this command should prompt us to have an intentional plan of assisting others in need. We may not have agricultural fields that others can glean from, but we all have some source or sources of income which can be be apportioned thoughtfully and compassionately.

And finally, while many might seek to pursue political activism and social justice on behalf of the less fortunate, we need to be cautious if we are relying on systems and governmental institutions to fill in the gaps of our personal, spiritual obligation to assist those who are poor. I am deeply convicted when I read the personal nature of Isaiah’s exhortation to the people of God: “”Is it not to share YOUR bread with the hungry, to bring the poor and homeless into YOUR house, to clothe the naked when YOU see him, and not to ignore YOUR OWN flesh and blood?”

With the incredible variety of challenges that the poor and homeless in any community may be experiencing, such as mental challenges and drug addictions, inviting them into your home may not always be the safest or quite honestly best thing for them that truly helps their real needs. In those cases, we must exercise discernment. But it certainly does not absolve us of our ability to personally assist them by at least helping them to possibly find a local mission or para-ministry organization who may already specialize in providing more holistic support that can help them get back on their feet. Like the Samaritan of old in Yeshua’s parable, perhaps we can assist the disadvantaged individual by helping them to a caring organization and simply offer to help with the cost of their program involvement.

Let’s do a thought experiment. By current estimates in 2022, the average number of people per household in the U.S. is 2.6. With approximately 340 million Americans, this equates to around 130 million total households in this country. 67% of Americans claim to be Christian; this results in an estimated 87 million Christian households. The poverty rate among Americans is just above 10% of the total population. That equals approximately 34 million Americans or 13 million households in poverty. So taking all of these numbers into account, in simple math, if each one of the 87 million believing households was intentional about assisting just one of the 13 million households in poverty, poverty could easily be eliminated six times over in this country!

Now obviously these are round numbers and general assumptions that do not take into account the many-faceted challenges associated with a task of this magnitude. Is it really this simple? No, but hopefully it provides at least a glimmer of a perspective of how significant real and personal involvement can be. Isaiah encouraged his generation to take personal responsibility for their poor, and I believe God is continuing to task his people with this same objective. Think of the possibilities of what a more solvent society could mean not only for those rising out of poverty, but for our economy and for the benefit of all Americans. And beyond that, what if believers were to solve poverty in America, and then take that same momentum to other areas of the world in need? Truly acting on what we say we believe can make a real difference in this world. And that difference can honor God and bring glory to his name to a world desperately in need of him.

So, in conclusion, demonstrating compassion is not always easy; if it was, it would be commonplace, and we would not need to be encouraged to take actions that we would normally do anyway. However, what we can learn from the principle of gleaning of the fields is that it takes forethought and intentionality to be obedient to the commands of God when it comes to helping others. And while our current social status might not be based on a lineage that has been rescued out of actual slavery like the Israelites were, we as believers have all come from a background of spiritual slavery of disobedience to God in one form or another. God showed compassion to us when we were spiritually bankrupt and had nothing to offer him. If nothing else, this compassionate love of our God toward us should provide a recognition of our common bond with all others, not only in our country but around the world. This bond should then spur us on to obedience, to be faithful to God’s command of demonstrating compassion with those who cannot provide for themselves.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Compassionate wisdom from above

Our primary example for how to live our lives is an example of unyielding compassion for others.

Our primary example for how to live our lives is an example of unyielding compassion for others.

James 3:13, 16-17 – Who among you is wise and understanding? By his good conduct he should show that his works are done in the gentleness that comes from wisdom. … For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, open to reason, full of compassion and good fruits, unwavering, without pretense.

To be full of the “wisdom from above” is to be compassionate towards others. From this compassion comes good actions that are sincere. Yeshua honored the practice of mercy or compassion by relating how a life of mercy towards others will result in mercy shown back towards that individual.

Matthew 5:7 – “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

That good and kind works follows a heart of mercy and compassion is evidenced by the believer from Joppa named Tabitha.

Acts 9:36 – In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which is translated Dorcas). She was always doing good works and acts of charity.

She had been instrumental in working hard to make and provide clothing for others in need, and had earned the respect of her peers and her community. The narrative relates how she had become ill and died, but because of her mercy toward others, a great miracle was performed through Peter in raising her from death; mercy had been shown toward her and her little community.

Compassion by its very nature indicates that kind actions are being performed towards others. As believers, we are commanded to be loving and helpful toward those in need. But in the passage above, James warns of the dangerous negative results which are obtained when people are instead selfish and envious of others. These qualities are the direct opposite of compassion. James relates how the out-workings of this destructive mindset are “disorder and every evil practice.”

Only by seeking the wisdom from above can we overcome a covetous and self-serving attitude. This wisdom was most dramatically displayed in the life of Messiah Yeshua, who willingly yielded his own will to the will of God, and in the process exemplified the ultimate measure of compassion amidst the tumultuous backlash of both the religious and political systems of his day. If we truly claim to be his followers, it is our obligation to do likewise by having the same sacrificial mindset on behalf of others, even amidst the tumultuous generation of our own day. The wisdom of demonstrating compassion is always a personal sacrifice that is acceptable to God and will result in mercy being presented back toward those who practice it sincerely and with a pure heart.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Living out our compassionate calling

True compassion is having the ability to confront injustice and corruption, helping those who cannot help themselves.

True compassion is having the ability to confront injustice and corruption, helping those who cannot help themselves.

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 this verse and the ones following, believers are called to be the salt and the light of the world. Both of these metaphorically stand for that which purifies and enlightens. If what we do in this life is not making a positive difference in the lives of those around us, then we are like the salt which has lost its taste, no longer good for anything.

The life of a believer is one that is forged in the fires of conflict. Paul writes that as much as is possible with us, we need to live in peace with all men, which is true (Romans 12:8). But by the same token, truth and compassion cannot rest idle within us, allowing the world to deteriorate around us. The nature of salt and light is that of healing and greater insight, not rottenness and darkness. The world is already filled with rotten and dark things, and what purpose do we serve if we only turn a blind and unfeeling eye toward our generation?

Instead, as representatives of the Creator of all, our lives should be demonstrations of truth and compassion, living out the ideals that the Creator of all has for his Creation. We should be focusing our godly efforts on those things within our sphere of influence that result in positive outcomes for those who are currently afflicted. Affliction takes many forms within the dark corners of our world, yet we have been uniquely gifted with Spirit of God, the ultimate salt and light, to accomplish whatever needs to be done to meet needs and help others overcome adversities they may be facing.

This is how the kingdom of God expands, and how we demonstrate the ability to overcome evil by doing good (Romans 12:21). Though we may suffer through this process in the fires of conflict that can ensue, we can stand knowing that we have been faithful to our compassionate calling of being the salt and light when and where it was needed most.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Sacrificial compassion

We are called to provide life and hope to others, but it comes at a cost to ourselves.

We are called to provide life and hope to others, but it comes at a cost to ourselves.

Romans 5:6-8 – “For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Messiah died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person ​– ​though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Messiah died for us.”

There is no greater example of compassion than the ultimate sacrifice God provided for those who refused to believe in him whole heartedly: his own Son. The Jews had rejected God as their king because they wanted an earthly king. They then rejected their earthly king and replaced him with the idolatry of the nations and political ambition. They then looked forward with a hope for a Messiah, and yet rejected him when he arrived because he did not match their expectations.

The Jewish nation was sinful because they had neglected the worship of the true God and had replaced it with their own unattainable system of rules and regulations far above anything God ever imagined for them. Though as a nation they claimed to be righteous and holy, they were in fact impious, ungodly, wicked sinners. That is what the word ungodly means in the verse above: “Messiah died for the ungodly.” Yeshua had come proclaiming the kingdom of God, and they rejected both him and his message. There is nothing more ungodly than rejecting the Word of God which was present in the very person of Messiah Yeshua.

Yet, in remarkable and unheard of obedience, Messiah willingly allowed himself to be mercilessly crucified on their behalf. They refused to die to themselves, so he died for them. He had become their rightful king and ultimate Lord, and they rejected his authority which had come straight from the living God, choosing instead to have him killed.

I don’t know what possible personal infraction you could have suffered that could take precedence over the injustices suffered by Messiah. Yet even through all of that unjustified criticism and rejection, he exemplified the deepest compassion for his own people, those who were like lost sheep, scattered amidst a depraved world. And in so doing, he opened the door for anyone else who desires to come to the God of the universe, as well. If they could have peace with God through faith in him, then so can we. Anyone who places their faith in the Messiah of God is likewise received with gladness and rejoicing in the presence of God.

A sacrificial compassion will be exemplified in similar ways: one must die to oneself in order to provide life and hope to others. As his children through faith, this is who we are, and what we are called to do.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Living the new life of compassion

Believers have a godly responsibility to actively seek out and meet the needs of others.

Believers have a godly responsibility to actively seek out and meet the needs of others.

In the letter written to the congregation at Colosse, the apostle Paul has reached the heart of what it means to be a believer in the Messiah.

Colossians 2:6-7 – “As therefore you received Messiah Yeshua as Lord, so live in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”

Paul encourages the believers that if they have received Messiah and truly accept him as their Master and Teacher, then they should “live in him.” The next several chapters go on to describe what that life that is lived in him should look like.

One of the primary emphases that he focuses on is the believer’s disassociation with worldly entanglements. He creates an analogy of life and death, and how a commitment to the Messiah is the equivalent of dying to this world, and being lived as a new life in him.

Colossians 2:13 – “And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses…”

This new life of living in him should now take our focus off of the negative entrapments of the worldliness around us, and cause us to look “above,” to heavenly ideals.

Colossians 3:1-3 – “If then you have been raised with Messiah, seek the things that are above, where Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Messiah in God.

Colossians 3:9, 12 – … seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices … Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, hearts of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience…

All of these qualities that believers should represent stem from the ideal that we have died to our old life lived in disobedience to God and now are living a new life according to God’s Word with the goals and ideals of the Messiah.

Paul mentions one of the first qualities of this new life as a heart of compassion. The underlying Greek word conveys the idea of deep feelings of sympathy with a person’s difficulties or misfortunes. Compassion is one of the defining characteristics of God, so it is no wonder it should be one of the primary qualities of his children.

When we feel compassionless, it may be that we have lost sight of whose we are, and where our focus should be. Paul clearly says we should seek “those things that are above,” that is, the things of the heavenly kingdom of God. When we can step back and realize that there is an authority and an ideal that reigns above the struggles and injustice of the world system, we should be energized by God to have compassion on those who have not yet come this realization. Having this godly type of compassion causes us to elevate the needs of others above our own, and helps us to begin to bear fruit for God in the darkness around us.

Being dead to this world but alive to God means that we have a great responsibility; a responsibility to respond to the needs around us in godly ways. When we choose to follow the instruction of God’s Word, we become one with the life and teaching of his Messiah and should represent him in honorable and practical ways in the lives of those around us. Exhibiting his compassion is a primary way that we can share the truth of that heavenly kingdom, that there is more to this life than just cold, hard living: that in Messiah there is hope, and life, and peace.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

God’s reward for compassionate giving

Giving to get something in return is a false compassion.

Giving to get something in return is a false compassion.

Matthew 6:1 – “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. Otherwise, you have no reward with your Father in heaven.”

Yeshua is very clear that acts of charity and support for the poor should be kept as private as possible. This is a principle based on the humility of the believer and on protecting the pride of the receiver; few people in need truly want to be identified as a “charity case.”

But in this passage, Yeshua mentions a reward that the Father provides. While many have speculated on what this would be, the complete passage provides the answer within itself.

Matthew 6:2-4 – “So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward. But when you give to the poor, don’t 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 can see what the reward of the Father is by looking at its opposite: the reward that is received by the “hypocrites.” Their reward is to be applauded and admired by other people. But Yeshua stresses that private acts of charity result in a reward of the Father. If the hypocrite is to be rewarded with applause and admiration of people, then the reward of the Father can be shown to be admired and honored by him. It does not necessarily mean some sort of bounty will be poured out on you; although he could do that if he so desired.

Luke 6:38 – “Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure ​– ​pressed down, shaken together, and running over ​– ​will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”

This passage in the gospel of Luke only points to the abundance of God’s measure compared to even the smallest act of generosity on our part. God has many ways to pour out an abundant measure into our lives, whether well-being, peace with neighbors, bountiful crops, etc. Even our smallest act of compassion towards others holds great significance in his eyes.

But the emphasis Yeshua puts forth our passage in Matthew is that to be admired by the Father is in itself the highest reward. We should never give just so we can get something in return. Our giving is encouraged to be to those who have nothing to give in return for that very reason. Simply providing assistance to others and having the admiration of God should be more than enough for us.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The compassionate commandments

Yeshua taught the true intent of the ten commandments.

Yeshua taught the true intent of the ten commandments.

As we view the ten commandments delivered on Sinai at the revelation of God to his people, we find that within the ministry of Yeshua he emphasized the expanded intent behind the commandments that had gotten lost within the oral Torah of the Jews.

For example, some of the Jewish leaders had done the bare minimum in taking care of their parents, claiming that the support that they would have provided to their parents was instead a service that was rendered to God in other ways.

Matthew 15:3-7 – “…And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ But you say that whoever tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is given to God,’ then that person need not honor the father. So, for the sake of your tradition, you make void the word of God. You hypocrites!…”

This hypocritical practice negated the command of honoring parents, which is the whole point of the fifth commandment: to support them and take care of them when they can no longer care for themselves. Yeshua emphasized that by trying to get by on a technicality with the commandment, they were essentially making the word of God void of any meaning. Instead, they should have been respecting the God-given authority of their fathers and mothers, being helpful to them, that they would all live long and productive lives.

The eighth commandment is a prohibition against stealing. Clearly, the command states that we should never secretly take anything that does not belong to us. Here, too, Yeshua expands on the idea that not only should believers not steal, but we should be willing always to do the opposite: to give generously of all our resources.

Luke 6:38 – “…give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”

The tenth commandment is an admonition to avoid coveting. Some rabbinical minds over the years have come to the conclusion that the prohibition against coveting is a kind of summary of all of the other commandments on the two tablets, a proposal not without merit.

For example, if we are not covetous, we are less likely to kill, commit adultery, steal, or lie. All of these actions related in the second table can be traced back to covetousness.

Also if we are not covetous, we are not likely to seek out other gods for help, serve images, associate with God’s people in vain, work through the sabbath to try to get ahead, or deny assistance to our parents; all of the commandments from the first tablet.

Instead of coveting, Yeshua encourages the very opposite: to provide generously of all that God has given you.

Matthew 6:19-21 – “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Yeshua encourages his followers to fill their minds with gratefulness and take pleasure in all that God has graciously given them. They are to share the blessings they have received freely with others.

By emphasizing the positive compassionate actions behind these commandments, Yeshua sums up everything in the Golden Rule:

Matthew 7:12 – “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.”

This is why Yeshua could state that breaking the commandments was an offense that was still active within the kingdom of God. By negating or trying to get around the commandments on technicalities, those individuals would be missing the intent of the commands in the first place and removing themselves from the work that God intends to accomplish through his people.

Matthew 5:19-20 – “Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Seeking out and performing the compassionate positive actions behind the commandments should be the common practice of all believers. By taking the “thou shalt nots” and re-stating the opposite of each as a positive command, we can find that Yeshua was teaching the true compassion contained within each of the commandments revealed at Sinai.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Reverence, humility, and helping others

Recognizing how Job’s friends interacted with him should help us be better friends.

Core of the Bible podcast #64 – Reverence, humility, and helping others

Today we will be looking at the topic of compassion, and the duty of believers to humbly reach out to others in respect of reverence of God, or the fear of Yahweh.

Now this idea is based on an interesting verse in Job which has several different meanings depending on which English version one is using, or how one places the emphasis in the original language.

The NIV relates Job 6:14 in the following manner:

“Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.”

This is pretty straightforward, and even contains a nice moral theme of demonstrating that those who are not kind with their friends are demonstrating that they themselves have forsaken the “fear of the Almighty.”

Now, we’ll talk more about the fear of God in a little bit; but want I want to focus on for the moment is comparing this translation of this verse with a more accurate one from the NASB. It reads like this:

“For the despairing man there should be kindness from his friend so that he does not forsake the fear of the Almighty.”

The Holman CSB reads in a similar way:

“A despairing man should receive loyalty from his friends, even if he abandons the fear of the Almighty.”

These types of translations are closer to the text and the context, and express a different emphasis of conveying that friends should extend kindness to their friends even when (or specifically so the friends don’t) abandon the fear of God.

Now, truth be told, I had written a whole article last year on this verse, focusing on the first type of translation, how not extending compassion to one’s friend could be an indication that someone has lost the fear of God. When we don’t recognize how God wants us to reach out and help others, we are negating our reverence for God. I said it this way:

“If we do not have the fear of God, Job says, we have no motivation for expressing compassion to those less fortunate or those who are going through rough patches in their lives; we withhold kindness. We instead focus on our personal agendas which end up being relatively insignificant by comparison.”

This is not an untrue statement. We are typically self-centered by nature, and if we do not have the fear of God in our lives, we typically spend little time caring for the needs of others.

However, this is not what this verse actually says when it is viewed in its entire context. Contextually, the secondary versions from the NASB and the Holman CSB are more accurate. These focus on the friends providing compassion to a friend in need so that the needful friend does not abandon all hope and reject the fear of God altogether.

Let’s look at the context to show how this bears out.

In this passage, Job is bewailing the struggle and grief he is experiencing.

Job 6:2, 4, 8-10 – “Oh that my grief were actually weighed And laid in the balances together with my calamity! … “For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, Their poison my spirit drinks; The terrors of God are arrayed against me. … “Oh that my request might come to pass, And that God would grant my longing! “Would that God were willing to crush me, That He would loose His hand and cut me off! “But it is still my consolation, And I rejoice in unsparing pain, That I have not denied the words of the Holy One.”

This is the recurring theme of Job: how he maintains his innocency and yet God is afflicting him.

Then, in his continuing monologue, Job becomes dismissive of his friends who, rather than building him up, are instead accusing Job of some wrongdoing that has resulted in his condition.

Job 6:25-27 – “How painful are honest words! But what does your argument prove? “Do you intend to reprove my words, When the words of one in despair belong to the wind? “You would even cast lots for the orphans And barter over your friend.”

Job is saying they are not acting as true friends who should be comforting him; rather they are providing arguments of why he is wrong during his time of suffering. They are not acting as true friends, but as judges, trying to outdo each other to provide the correct assessment of why he is in the predicament he is.

So, understanding the fuller context can now help us determine which of the translations of verse 14 are more accurate. Is Job saying that forsaking a friend means one has lost the fear of God themself, or is he saying that real friends would comfort a friend in need to prevent him from abandoning his fear of God?

Notice what Job says:

Job 6:26 – “Do you intend to reprove my words, When the words of one in despair belong to the wind?

Job is upbraiding them for reproving him when they should recognize instead that someone who is in despair is likely uttering words with no meaning. They should be comforting him in his affliction rather than trying to prove to him why he deserves to be afflicted. They should be doing everything they can to make sure that Job does not lose his fear of God in his despair.

This type of textual analysis really drives home to me the importance of good, comprehensive Bible study. It is very easy for us to arrive at faulty conclusions when we are pulling verses out of context for the sake of proving some point we are attempting to make. It’s kind of like Job’s friends who grasped at anything to show Job why he was in the wrong; we have a tendency to create our own type of meaning where there really isn’t any, and we miss the bigger picture of our responsibility toward others.

This, I believe, is one of the main reasons the apostle James could write the following:

James 3:1-2 – “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many ways…”

Teaching about the Bible is a humbling challenge that requires constant re-evaluation and sometimes a readjustment of perspective. Seeing how this verse can be slanted in different directions reminds me of how I need to humbly and prayerfully ensure I am also always trying to convey the correct context at all times to derive the greatest application.


Now that we understand a bit more about the context of Job 6, we can look at verse 14 as helping us understand how and why we should be interacting with our friends who may be struggling.

“A despairing man should receive kindness from his friends, even if he abandons the fear of the Almighty.”

This aligns most closely with the literal rendering of the original Hebrew which reads: “To him who is afflicted, by his friend, kindness, even though the fear of the Almighty he forsakes.”

This admonition of Job for all believers drives us to the conclusion that we should always extend kindness, not judgment, for those we know who may be suffering. In doing so, we are helping to keep them from losing their reverence for God in their despair. Or if they have no reverence for God, we demonstrate God’s love to them in simply caring for their needs without judgment.

This was recently brought home to me by reading an article by Allie Brosh, the creator of the “Hyperbole and a half” blog and books. In it, she describes in a humorous, yet poignant and profound way, how people she knew found it almost impossible to relate to her while she was battling severe clinical depression.

She relates it this way: “They try to help you have feelings again so things can go back to normal, and it’s frustrating for them when that doesn’t happen. From their perspective it seems there has got to be some untapped source of happiness within you that you’ve simply lost track of…”

This is almost the exact situation Job found himself in. His friends were trying so hard to analyze why he was afflicted, they just kept attacking his problem from their perspective, when all he really needed was some affirmation that they were there for him.

Allie continues how it appears from the perspective of the one who is afflicted: “The problem might not even have a solution. But you aren’t necessarily looking for solutions.” She then goes on to describe how the most helpful things would have been for her friends to say things like, “Sorry that you are going through this,” or “Wow, that seems really difficult, but I still like you.” In this way, they would be affirming their concern without laying down judgment on why she was suffering. That type of compassion goes a long way toward providing real comfort to those in need, even if it doesn’t solve their problems.

The good news is, Allie was able to overcome her deep depression and regain her sense of purpose. And, while I don’t personally know Allie or her spiritual state before God, if she had been a believer during her affliction, and her friends had acted in a godly, supportive and non-judgmental way, she would likely have been encouraged to not lose all hope in her reverence for God, her “fear of the Almighty,” as Job says.


So, as promised earlier, let’s explore this phrase a little further. “The fear of the Almighty” or “the fear of the Lord” are phrases that have fallen out of use in our modern religious vernacular. Rarely is God represented as a being who is to be feared; rather, his mercy and forgiveness are emphasized above and beyond all of the qualities of his being.

To better understand this admonition to fear God, we would do well to investigate the word that is translated in our English versions as “fear.” In regular vocabulary, that word to us means to be frightened or scared of something or someone who might do us harm. However, in biblical terminology, the term goes beyond that into a broader usage of “reverence” or “awe.”

If we have the fear of God, we have the deepest respect and reverence for God, recognizing just how awesome and powerful he really is. Whether we read of his power in the creation of all things, or the separating of the Red Sea, or in the resurrection of Yeshua, we are glimpsing the majesty and glory that sits outside of our natural understanding into the supernatural realm of God’s character and abilities. When we incorporate that perspective of the other-ness of God into our daily lives, we cannot help acting and working differently than others around us who have a physical-only worldview.

This concept of perspective-changing awe is a known commodity, even outside of religious environments. Marina Koren, writing in the The Atlantic periodical under their science category, relates the following assessment of awe. She dubs it “galaxy brain,” and conveys that it is a concept that has demonstrable effects in the lives of those who experience it:

“Imagine yourself at a scenic vista somewhere on Earth, such as the rim of the Grand Canyon or the shore of an ocean stretching out past the horizon line. As your brain processes the view and its sheer vastness, feelings of awe kick in. Looking at a photo is not the same, but we might get a dose of that when we look at a particularly sparkly Hubble picture of a star cluster. The experience of awe, whether we’re standing at the summit of a mountain or sitting in front of a computer screen, can lead to “a diminished sense of self,” a phrase psychologists use to describe feelings of smallness or insignificance in the face of something larger than oneself. Alarming as that may sound, research has shown that the sensation can be a good thing: A shot of awe can boost feelings of connectedness with other people.”

Having the larger perspective of awe can help us realize that the things we value as important to us in the short term of our temporary lives pale in contrast with the more important things that the God of the universe expects of us, such as helping others.

When someone receives a kind gesture from another person, have you ever heard them say something like, “This helped me regain my faith in humanity?” This implies that everyone is so used to being treated negatively by others that one kind action can have a big impact on them. As believers, though, our purpose through kindness is not to have others regain their faith in humanity (although that is a good start), but it is to have them recognize how the God of the universe is reaching out to them through our kind and helpful actions. We should be helping others to maintain their fear of the Almighty, or to recognize it if they have never experienced it.

This involves a large level of humility. Describing the “galaxy brain,” Marina Koren said when we experience this sense of awe it results in “diminishment of self.” Taken as a whole, the Bible is really all about instilling in us a sense of diminishment of self.

Proverbs 15:33 – “The fear of Yahweh is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor comes humility.”

Proverbs 29:23 – “A man’s pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor.”

Yeshua even spoke about the obedience of humility in this way:

Matthew 5:3 – “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Paul, in writing to the Philippian congregation, says:

Philippians 2:3-4 – “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

As we have seen, humility can be accomplished through a sense of awe and wonder for the God who created all things and who placed us within his creation to make a compassionate difference in the lives of those around us. Our kindness toward others not only reveals our reverence for God, but for those who are in desperate situations, it can revive or even create a kindred sense of awe for God.

When we operate within that sense of big-picture reverence for our Creator, we are not only encouraged but compelled to express his compassion. In this way, the two greatest commands, to love God and love others, can be fulfilled in us.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The centrality of compassion

Yeshua was consistent in his emphasis of mercy towards others.

In the content of the Sermon on the Mount, we have a glimpse of the essence of Yeshua’s teaching during his public ministry. It is likely that these sayings and principles were valued because of their central themes that had become repeated in various locations throughout his travels in Israel. This can be shown from the parallel rendering of this teaching in the gospel of Luke where the same general information is presented in a similar way, but there it is only about a fourth as long as the discourse in Matthew 5-7.

Some believe Luke is simply providing a condensed representation of the same event. Others depict the two passages as being separate occasions by highlighting the differences in location, as Luke says Yeshua “stood on a level place” like a plain, while Matthew reports, “he went up on the mountain” and “sat down” to deliver this information to his disciples.
I would agree that it is not necessary to beat the information into the same mold to try to reconcile the passages as occurring in the same place and the same time. It is just as likely that these central teachings of Yeshua were repeated as he traveled around.

The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown commentary states that Luke’s representation could be a different instance, “as we know that our Lord delivered some of His weightiest sayings more than once, there is no difficulty in supposing this to be one of His more extended repetitions; nor could anything be more worthy of it.”

The Cambridge Bible commentary relates, “There is no need to assume two discourses—one esoteric and one exoteric, &c. At the same time there is of course no difficulty in supposing that our Lord may have uttered the same discourse, or parts of the same discourse, more than once, varying it as occasion required.”

Regardless of how one views the particulars of these events, in both passages there is an emphasis on mercy and compassion.

Matthew 5:7 – “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

Here it appears that Yeshua was conveying that those who extend kindness or goodwill towards those less fortunate than themselves will have kindness and goodwill extended towards them by others. From this perspective, it is almost a re-statement of the Golden Rule which occurs later on in the discourse:

Matthew 7:12 – “Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

These themes are repeated in the Luke version, as well.

Luke 6:31, 36 – And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. … Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

I think that from this repetition we can conclude that compassion towards others, even adversaries, is a central theme of Yeshua’s teachings. If this was the same message he continued to present in all of the various places he traveled to within Israel, then it had a unique prominence of emphasis. Because of this importance, it is incumbent upon us, if we claim to be his followers, that we also demonstrate this compassion as a central expression of who we are 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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.