The Watcher and Influencer of hearts

“If you say, “Behold, we didn’t know this;” doesn’t he who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, doesn’t he know it? Shall he not render to every man according to his work?”

Proverbs 24:12

Yahweh is he represented as one who weighs the heart and keeps the soul. Scripture conveys the idea that Yahweh is observing, and guarding, and watching at all times. To say that he observes is to say that he keeps watch, as one who is guarding a fortress. A watcher must be alert and aware at all times of what’s going on. But a watcher is also a preserver, or a guard who protects what he has guarding. These meanings bleed together in the descriptions of how God is intimately involved with the inmost motives of his people.

Proverbs 16:2: “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but Yahweh weighs the motives.”
Proverbs 21:2: “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but Yahweh weighs the hearts.”

As a weigher of hearts, he is depicted as a measurer, balancing motives on a scale to see how they measure up. But there is also conveyed a notion of being a regulator of those motives which drive our actions. In this sense, Yahweh is depicted as being actively involved in molding and shaping one’s thoughts toward a desired outcome.

Proverbs 21:1: “The king’s heart is in Yahweh’s hand like the watercourses. He turns it wherever he desires.”

Many great minds over the centuries have pondered these aspects of Yahweh’s involvement within the deepest recesses of those whom he has created. Some have concluded all is predestined and Yahweh’s hand guides everything without exception. Others have concluded that the free will of mankind is the only explanation for how God can hold us accountable for our actions.

However, I am of the opinion that these types of passages demonstrate how all of creation is balanced on the point of a needle. The very actions and motives of our heart are not only known by God but also at times purposefully planted with intent. To my mind, this is why predestination and free will are both sustainable arguments from Scripture, because they are both true, but neither is satisfactory in the extreme.

To be wholly predestined is to be a robot acting out a pre-programmed course of events. To have complete free will is to acknowledge the sovereignty of man above the will of God, hence, making mankind God.
The reality is that God holds men accountable for the integrity of their actions, and yet is actively supporting, directing, and regulating those actions for his perfect will.

I believe the practical key for our understanding lies in recognizing the outcome of our actions which are based on our motives. The more in line our actions are with God‘s word, the more we can know we are doing what’s right in his eyes. The integrity of our actions are the feedback loop on our motives. While this indefinable process of God’s influence on our heart and motives strains our understanding, we are not left without a recognition of the results of that influence in our lives.

We should join with the pleas of David, as he seeks Yahweh’s strength and wisdom in molding and shaping his heart, so that his actions would reflect and conform to the will of  God.

Psalm 51:10-13,17: “Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me. Don’t throw me from your presence, and don’t take your holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation. Uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways. Sinners shall be converted to you. … The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

When we offer up broken hearts, we demonstrate our willingness to conform our lives to God’s standards so that his will can be accomplished. Allowing his influence on our hearts through his Spirit completes the purpose of God to establish his ways in our hearts, and not just in a book.

Integrity is consistency of action with the revealed will of Yahweh. We should welcome his scrutiny and influence as a watcher and influencer of hearts while we seek to obediently chart our way through this world. The more we do so, the more he is honored and glorified.


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.

The beauty of a long life of integrity

“Gray hair is a crown of glory. It is attained by a life of righteousness.”

Proverbs 16:31:

In the ancient Middle Eastern culture of three thousand years ago, this saying would have had a much different connotation than we might see today. In fact, reading through the proverbs of Solomon, one might easily skip over this simple statement as being a quaint observation from the past.

In today’s society, we look less upon advanced age as the reward of a righteous life, and more of an expected right for all. We see little connection between the ethical quality of the life lived, and the duration of that life. Everything now is about advanced medical opportunities and mindful health practices. Whether a person is good or bad is rarely considered a factor in the role of longevity.

In the ancient world, growing older was considered a sign of blessing and honor. Generally speaking, the role of elders in society was viewed as being filled with gravity and wisdom. Elders in villages were looked upon as repositories of wisdom and guidance for the community. We see this was even a recommended practice among their early believing communities, as elders were to be appointed to lead the spiritual life of the congregations of Messiah.

To attain an advanced age was to have lived a life of right choices, and therefore worthy of respect. In our day, we see echoes of this mentality when individuals who live to be 100 years or older are interviewed as to what their “secret” is for having lived so long. If for no other reason than this, I would enjoy living to that advanced age only for the opportunity to share that a life of obedience and righteousness to the God of the universe provides wisdom for happiness and longevity.

Proverbs 9:10-11: “The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom.
The knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For by me your days will be multiplied. The years of your life will be increased.”

Matthew Poole in his commentary has this interesting observation regarding the white hair of the aged:

“…[it is] a great honour and ornament, as it is a singular blessing of God, a token of great experience and prudence, as it comes nearest to God, who is called the Ancient of days, Daniel 7:9.”

To be ancient of days is to be considered having qualities of wisdom approaching those of God. The white hair of age is not something to be dyed and colored to mimic the vibrancy of youth, but is to be a visible representation and celebration of longevity and honored living.

Of course, as with any general rule or maxim, there are always exceptions. Sometimes the wicked people continue on, while lives of integrity are cut short. This leveling truth was also revealed by Solomon:

Ecclesiastes 9:11  Again I saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift, or the battle to the strong, or bread to the wise, or riches to the discerning, or favor to the skillful; rather, time and chance happen to all of them.

While time and chance have a role to play within the wisdom of God, I think it can easily be demonstrated that, on the whole, short or long, a life of integrity and wisdom is its own reward. But for the aged among us who have genuinely lived lives of integrity, we should seek to provide the appreciation and respect they deserve.


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.

Guarded by integrity

Psalm 25:21: “Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.”

Proverbs 13:6: “Righteousness guards the way of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner.”

Individual integrity is a theme that runs throughout scripture, and is a primary focus of the Wisdom literature of the Bible. A contemporary English definition of integrity is “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.” But it also conveys the wholeness of something, as in solidarity or unified strength, or soundness of construction.

The biblical definition has similar overtones of wholeness, but comes from a root word meaning “complete or finished.” In this sense, integrity is a characteristic that demonstrates maturity and simplicity, as something that is complete is not complex; it is a fully integrated wholeness, and therefore unified and simple.

As this term is explored in scripture, those who exhibit this characteristic of integrity are shielded from wrong paths. The integrity they have actually influences their ability to withstand the ebb and flow of ethical morality that swirls around them every day. In Psalm 25:21, the David wrote that integrity and uprightness preserves him. In Proverbs 13:6, Solomon writes that “righteousness guards the way of integrity.” Like father, like son. This principle can be seen being passed generationally in these great documents of the faith.

The same root word is used in these passages which has the meaning “to preserve, watch, guard, or keep.” Those who act with integrity are kept from wrong action; it’s as if their integrity actually shields them from wrong paths.

Proverbs 2:6-8: “For Yahweh gives wisdom. Out of his mouth comes knowledge and understanding. He lays up sound wisdom for the upright. He is a shield to those who walk in integrity; that he may guard the paths of justice, and preserve the way of his saints.”

The simplicity of this principle is often overlooked due to the many complex issues we face in our current era, and the multitude of ethical choices available to us at any given point in time. However, Yahweh himself maintains and watches over the way of those who demonstrate integrity. As we follow his knowledge and understanding, we mature. And as we grow in the completeness of our integrity, we find that the right thing to do is typically a very simple thing, and we will be guarded in the doing of it by the One who is glorified in it.


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.

The resourcefulness and confidence of integrity

Proverbs 31:10, 29-31 Who can find a wife of noble character? She is far more precious than jewels. … Many women have done noble deeds, but you surpass them all! ” Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD will be praised. Give her the reward of her labor, and let her works praise her at the city gates.

One would be hard pressed to find fault with the woman represented in Proverbs 31. This paramount of virtue and industry has been a standard revered for ages, since these words were originally penned. If such a woman were to exist, she would be worthy of high praise, indeed.

She is typically known as the woman of noble character, but if we dig a little into the language, we find another aspect of character at work: strength. The word that is typically translated as noble or virtuous is a Hebrew word meaning strength, resources, or ability. Going further into the root language, we arrive at the word for twisting or whirling about, as perhaps in a dance. Taken together, these meanings convey that this woman is not just noble, but a resilient and resourceful individual who is poetically active and engaged at all times. Everything she does is worthy of praise and honor. She takes care of her husband and her family; she reaches out to those in need; she is constantly doing something that brings honor to her family name and to God. Her activities are known and recognized by others, and God is honored by her determination and character.

Using a slightly different word picture, Yeshua encourages his believers to be of a similar mindset.

Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. “No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

When we see how these themes intertwine, we can arrive at the conclusion that Proverbs 31 isn’t speaking about a specific woman at all, but is a personification of the collective people of God who are to be continually active in the works and will of God. As the bride, we honor our husband when we are diligent and faithful in our duties, dancing joyfully about within his perfect will for us. As we do, our light shines out in meaningful ways to others; it cannot be hidden.

I have learned that the woman’s confidence and resourcefulness allows her to laugh at tomorrow (v. 25). There is nothing outside of ourselves that can dampen our integrity or our efforts when we are busily engaged within the perfect will of God and his purpose for the kingdom.


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.

Doing the wisdom of God

The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!

Psalm 111:10

This verse has some interesting value when viewed from the Hebrew perspective, and also when compared to passages with similar phrasing.

To begin with, in the original Hebrew, the word order is arranged differently (which is typically the case when translating). However, in this instance it provides some interesting insights.

“The beginning of wisdom is the fear of Yahweh.” Stated in this word order, it seems to emphasize the beginning of wisdom phrase over the fear of Yahweh phrase. Wisdom hasn’t even begun until one respects the authority of Yahweh.

This has far-reaching implications, that what we might call wisdom is miniscule if it has no foundation upon God. There are many extremely smart people who have lived or are alive now who have had no recognition of the one true God of the universe. The Bible is emphatic in highlighting that true wisdom cannot even begin until there is a respect for the authority of God. If God is not part of one’s worldview, then there is no true wisdom.

Additionally, the second phrase of the verse, when compared with similar verses, reveals that doing the wisdom of God continues to mold and shape those who believe in him. These other verses, parallel passages also in the Psalms, are illustrating how those who fashion idols, or those who “do idolatry,” become like the idols themselves.

Psalm 115:4-8 Their idols are silver and gold, The work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they don’t speak; They have eyes, but they don’t see; They have ears, but they don’t hear; They have noses, but they don’t smell; They have hands, but they don’t feel; They have feet, but they don’t walk; Neither do they speak through their throat. Those who make them will be like them; Yes, everyone who trusts in them.

Psalm 135:15-18 The idols of the nations are silver and gold, The work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they can’t speak; They have eyes, but they can’t see; They have ears, but they can’t hear; Neither is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them will be like them; Yes, everyone who trusts in them.

If those who make and trust in the idols will be like them, then that same phrase in Psalm 111 implies that those who “do” the wisdom of God will become like him. To have a respect for the authority of Yahweh provides wisdom, and when it is practiced, believers are molded and shaped to become more like him in all things.


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.

The integrity of avoiding oaths

“But, before all things, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven, or by the earth, or by any other oath; but let your ‘Yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘No’ ‘no,’ lest, under judgment, you fall.”

James 5:12

While this admonition has been taken by some religious groups today to avoid taking any oath, even in a court of law, I believe the original intent of this teaching is rooted in the instruction of Messiah.

“”Again you have heard that it was said to them of old time, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall perform to the Lord your vows,’ but I tell you, don’t swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is the throne of God; nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Neither shall you swear by your head, for you can’t make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No.’ Whatever is more than these is of the evil one.”

Matthew 5:33-37

The goal of this instruction is to ensure that believers are not swearing falsely in order to substantiate an untruthful situation. This is essentially a variation of the ninth commandment which is a command to not bear false witness against your neighbor.

To make matters worse, in Yeshua’s day, people would sometimes invoke the authority of heaven, or the holy city of Jerusalem in order to further validate an untruth. People today still carry on a similar expression when they “swear to God” in order to validate their truthfulness.

There is also this interesting maxim not to “swear by one’s head.” Perhaps having a little cultural understanding from a rabbinical perspective would serve to shed some light on this otherwise obscure term in our day and age.

John Gill in his Exposition of the Bible provides the following commentary:

Neither shalt thou swear by thy head,…. This also was a common form of swearing among the Jews: take a few instances. 
“If anyone is bound to his friend by an oath, and says to him, vow unto me , “by the life of thy head”; R. Meir says (u), he may retract it; but the wise men say, he cannot.” 
Again (w), a certain Rabbi said to Elijah, 
“I heard “Bath Kol” (or the voice from heaven) mourning like a dove, and saying, woe to my children; for, because of their sins, I have destroyed my house, and have burnt my temple, and have carried them captive among the nations: and he (Elijah) said unto him , “by thy life, and by the life of thy head”, not this time only it says so, but it says so three times every day.” 
Once more (x), says R. Simeon ben Antipatras, to R. Joshua, 
“I have heard from the mouth of the wise men, that he that vows in the law, and transgresses, is to be beaten with forty stripes: he replies, blessed art thou of God, that thou hast so done, , “by thy life, and by the life of thy head”, he that is used to do so is to be beaten.” 
This form of swearing is condemned, for this reason, because thou canst not make one hair white or black: which shows, that a man’s head, nor, indeed, one hair of his head, is in his own power, and therefore he ought not to swear by it; as he ought not to swear by heaven, or earth, or Jerusalem, because these were in the possession of God. Some copies read, “canst not make one white hair black”. 
(u) Misn. Sanhedrim, c. 3. sect 2.((w) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 3. 1. (x) Derech. Eretz, c. 6. fol. 18. 2.

Essentially, swearing by one’s head was swearing by one’s life, something that only God has control over.

These various examples provided by Messiah, whether heaven, or Jerusalem, or our own head, relate to the fact that a swearing or an oath always relies on someone greater than oneself as the authority. Yeshua cautioned his followers to simply be people of integrity, who only express what’s right in any given situation. Otherwise, they could be found guilty of defaming the One who is true.

“I tell you that every idle word that men speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.  For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.””

Matthew 12:36-37

Believers are accountable for our words, and we should take that admonition to heart in all of our daily interactions with others, whether providing testimony or not. Believers need to be people of integrity, and simply let the truthfulness of our words speak 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 here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Avoiding the deception of hypocrisy

Core of the Bible podcast #24- Avoiding the deception of hypocrisy

In this episode we will be exploring the topic of integrity, and how people of integrity understand and avoid the dangers and deception of hypocrisy.

Yeshua stated it this way: “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5

In other words, the basic takeaway is: Don’t be hypocritical.

But did you know there is actually more to this passage than just that? This admonition falls within the larger context of Yeshua’s teaching of judgment of others. Everyone is really good at quoting Matt.7:1 when they are attempting to defend something they are doing that is viewed critically by others:

Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.

“See,” they will say, “you shouldn’t judge others.”

Well, yes and no.

If we are finding ourselves critical of others, it is definitely safer to not pass judgment, as Yeshua points out. However, the next verse has an interesting facet to it:

Matthew 7:2 “For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

Yeshua seems to be focusing not as much on the act of judgment itself, but the standard by which one is judging others. Is it a fair standard? He then elaborates that thought with our spotlight verses today:

Matthew 7:3-5 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”

Ah, now we have the nugget of wisdom. Yeshua is saying that, in order to remove the speck in our friend’s eye, that is, in order to judge them fairly and help them, we need to ensure we have no logs in our own. Then we will see well enough in order to be a fair judge of our friends. Otherwise, if we are not willing to remove the log in our own eye, then we should not judge at all, or we will be judged.

That’s a little different meaning than you may be used to, isn’t it?

You see, it’s very easy for believers today to remove themselves from all controversy by simply saying, “I’m not one to judge,” thinking they are upholding Matt. 7:1. However, what they are really doing is going against the meaning of the passage, as Yeshua’s main point is NOT the “not judging,” but the “seeing clearly” to provide fair judgment. Because when we provide fair judgment, we are representing God’s interests in this world in a way that honors him.

God has charged his people with dominion over all things.

Genesis 1:28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

In the creation story, after Adam and Eve have partaken of the tree, he says, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil…” This ability for man to discern critically between right and wrong is in one sense how we have been created in God’s image.

Genesis 3:6 …the woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom…

See, Eve was thinking all of these very critical thoughts prior to taking the fruit; the fruit did not give her the capacity to think critically, it was already inherent within her.

The symbolism of the story is that the discerning ability of man was corrupted by the desires of the flesh: a craving for food, a preoccupation with beauty and form, and a curiosity for secret wisdom outside of God’s allotted provision.

Being created in God’s image, man has natural tendencies to judge between right and wrong. However, the story of Adam and Eve illustrates how living in this world skews those natural tendencies toward potentially harmful outcomes. She was seduced by the serpent, representing fleshly desires which are adversarial to God and his purpose. The wisdom of God becomes eclipsed by what confronts us by our senses in the natural world, and we lose sight of his righteous standards.

Therefore, Yeshua says we many times end up with these “logs” in our eyes, where we get caught up in the fleshly standards of the world, and we can no longer see clearly to correctly discern between right and wrong. In this state, we are unable to be of real assistance to those around us in need. And as believers, if we remain oblivious to our shortcomings, we then begin to act hypocritically saying we believe one thing while doing another, and thereby defaming the Name of God.

If we end up defaming his name, this is actually a violation of the third commandment: “Do not take the name of Yahweh in vain, or to no purpose.” Remember, our goal is to faithfully represent him in this world, since we have been created in his image. I believe that this is one of the main reasons why Yeshua is so emphatic that we avoid hypocrisy at all cost.


What I find fascinating is that hypocrisy is readily understood by all people. No matter a person’s social standing or culture, hypocritical actions are the basis of lost trust, strained work relations, and broken friendships. Within each individual there must be a built-in, deep desire for fairness and justice, otherwise hypocrisy in and of itself would be meaningless. Recognizing hypocritical actions demonstrates how all people, regardless of religious beliefs or backgrounds have the ability to discern a measure of rightness or equity. This is part of who we have been created to be, a type of moral and spiritual DNA that is evident in each person.

The driving factor of hypocrisy tends to be selfish preservation.

While I was recently reading an article regarding hypocrisy, the comments of the author, a neuroscientist Phd by the name of Erman Misirlisoy over at medium.com, caught my attention as it relates to this topic. He states it this way:

“Self-interest is the most obvious reason for any of us to act like hypocrites. When people are questioned about why they act in conflict with their own stated moral standards, many will say that the personal costs are enough to outweigh the intention to act morally. Essentially, we all want to act fairly until we are put on the spot and are facing our own personal consequences.”

Makes sense; after all, who wants to be accountable for getting caught at doing something we have openly condemned in others?

The kicker is, as Misirlisoy continues, that hypocrites are actually judged more harshly than flat out liars, and he provides a possible reason why.

“One strong explanation relates to false signaling. In essence, hypocrites employ a double layer of deception in their immoral acts — one more layer than the basic liars who simply say they’ve acted morally when they haven’t. When we hypocritically condemn someone’s immoral behavior, we disguise our personal misbehavior with a veil of persuasiveness or manipulation. It’s easier to see through an outright lie than a hypocrite’s condemnation. On top of that, a hypocrite has brought another person into the game. Instead of directly denying their immorality, the hypocrite sneakily implies they are good by attempting to shame someone else. This is a recipe for hatred when caught out…Overall, it backs up the idea that we have a greater tolerance for liars than we have for hypocrites. Hypocrites are like a special type of liar who puts extra effort into disguising their misbehavior and sending us false signals of moral superiority. Those false signals drive our contempt.”

When someone doesn’t hold themselves to the same standards they expect of others, they reveal a moral deficiency that invalidates their position. They can become blinded to the true state of any given situation, and then callously pursue their own agenda.

This is why this practice is so strongly condemned by Yeshua. He openly called out the hypocrisy of the religious leaders. In the 23rd chapter of Matthew, he publicly called them hypocrites at least 8 times in front of the assembled crowd and his disciples.

Matthew 23:13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.

This passage in full shows the depth of Yeshua’s passionate contempt for the duplicity of the religious leaders and their disdain for the truth of God’s Word.

He also cautioned his disciples to recognize and avoid this characteristic of the religious leaders.

Luke 12:1  … He began saying to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”

The disciples then picked up this recognition of hypocrisy and continued to caution the early believers from falling into the same trap.

Romans 12:9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.

James 3:17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.

1 Peter 2:1-3 Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

Hypocrisy undermines the integrity of those who exemplify it.

This is why it is critical that we as believers maintain a consistent and honest walk in all matters of any moral depth. It is only when we ensure we have no logs in our own eyes, then we will be able to see clearly to take the speck out of someone else’s eye.

Additionally, our ability to maintain our integrity reflects on the One whom we represent, and the kingdom he is establishing. When our integrity is intact, we then have the clarity of vision to keep our own way pure, and also to provide that exemplary guidance as a light to others.


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.

God evaluates the heart, but our deeds broadcast what’s in there

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but Yahweh weighs the hearts.

Proverbs 21:2

Most people in our Western culture who have any ideas about God will typically have the understanding that God knows everything about everybody, including internal thoughts. According to popular perception, the God of the Bible is all about judgment and motives.

This kind of understanding in Western culture is driven by the way God is depicted in the Bible, and Proverbs 21:2 is one of those that highlights that characteristic of God. A parallel passage in the Proverbs is consistent with this as well.

All a man’s ways are pure in his own eyes, but his motives are weighed out by the LORD.

Proverbs 16:2

But what is less recognized by the general population is the connection between the heart and actions. While most people are of the opinion that God is some sort of cosmic Santa Claus, just knowing good people from bad people, he really doesn’t have to go that far into an individual’s psyche to know what they think, because their actions bear out what’s in their heart.

For example, when Yeshua was confronting the Pharisees regarding their love of money and earthly wealth, he let them know how God’s perspective varied greatly from their own.

So He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is prized among men is detestable before God.

Luke 16:15

God (or anyone, for that matter) can know what’s in someone’s heart because of what they value. What the Pharisees prized (wealth) was detestable to God, especially in light of the fact that they were supposed to be the shepherds of his people. It’s not that God hates money, it’s just that he has revealed that when money is valued above one’s dedication to God, it has become an idol, and he detests idolatry in any form.

But the key takeaway was that their hearts were revealed by their actions.

If you say, “Behold, we did not know about this,” does not He who weighs hearts consider it? Does not the One who guards your life know? Will He not repay a man according to his deeds?

Proverbs 24:12

Even back here in Proverbs, we can see how the weighing of hearts is connected to an evaluation of someone’s deeds. The deeds reveal what is truly in the heart. This is also evident in the prophecies of Jeremiah.

I, Yahweh, search minds and test hearts. I will reward each person for what he has done. I will reward him for the results of his actions.

Jeremiah 17:10

While God can certainly know what’s in our hearts, he typically does not need to look much further than our actions to know what resides there. Unless what we believe lines up with what he teaches us through his Word, our lives will likely bear out the errors of our own thinking, what we think is “right in our own eyes.” Integrity is ensuring that our hearts and our actions are working together to fulfill the righteous purposes and will of 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 here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Walking in simple integrity

Everyone talks about how loyal and faithful he is, but just try to find someone who really is! A righteous man walks in simple integrity; happily guided are his children after him.

Proverbs 20:6-7

The wisdom of God is filled with admonitions of righteousness: doing what’s right according to his Word. In Hebrew culture, a tzaddik, a righteous one, is a person to be admired as an example to follow.

In these few verses from the Proverbs, we learn a bit about human nature, and the benefits of being faithful to God. We can see how most people are typically busy extolling their own virtues, while those who live in uncomplicated sincerity provide positive examples for their own children after them.

Integrity is considered a form of simplicity in that it is also considered completeness. Something that is complete has no additional parts added to it; it is whole and unified, hence, simple. In Hebraic thought, Yahweh is considered simple in the uncomplicated sense since he is one: “Hear, O Israel, Yahweh our God, Yahweh is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4). This oneness or unity of God is a result of his completeness; there is nothing that could be added to his character or being that would somehow make him more God.

To walk in completeness is to live in such a way that mimics (in a positive way) the simplicity and righteousness of the character and being of God. Yeshua encourages believers to live in this very way when he famously says, “Be perfect (i.e., complete or whole}, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” (Matthew 5:48).

The walk of the believer is their halachah, their manner of living. It is their customary course of action in any given situation. When those actions are based in simple integrity, they are creating positive examples for their children who can then be guided in the straight way behind them. This would be analogous to parents being likened to a snow plow clearing a road, and their children are in cars behind them following in the clear path through the snow that the parents have made. In doing so, the children are happy or blessed as the way has been made clear for them.

Being a faithful believer in the God of the Bible is a blessing, but also a large responsibility. As bearers of God’s image in this world, we should always be aware of how our actions influence others. Our goal should be to always live in such a way that God will be honored and further glory be brought to his Name by our righteous actions as we strive to continually live in simple integrity according to his Word.

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.

Magnifying God

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 5:16

Integrity is the result of individuals acting in agreement with their inner convictions. When those actions are based on the revealed word of God and recognized as sincere, God is magnified.

When Mary understood she was to be the mother of the Messiah, she could not contain the joy and wisdom from God’s Spirit that flooded her soul.

“Oh, how my soul magnifies the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me.

Luke 1:46-49

The word for magnifying God in the Greek means to “make great” or “to increase, extol, or show as great.” This is what a magnifying glass does: it increases something that appears small to make it larger and more easily viewable. To magnify God is a work of integrity in the life of the believer.

For they heard them speak with other languages, and magnify God.

Acts 10:46 

As the companions of Cornelius’ household heard and believed the good news from Peter about new life in Messiah, they were filled with God’s Spirit and began ecstatic praise in various languages as a sign to the Jews present that God was at work in their hearts.

When the Spirit of God is at work in the life of a believer, God is magnified. There is a some sort of shift that takes place in the spiritual realm that compels and emboldens believers to magnify him. Paul uses the analogy of a new creation, a new being that sees things differently than it did before.

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Messiah merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Messiah has become a newly created being. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

2 Corinthians 5:16-17

Quite honestly, this is the principle purpose of man in this world, to magnify God. We have been created in his image and as his image-bearers, we should be faithfully representing him in all that we do and say. When we do, we are letting our “light shine before men,” as Yeshua said. This is how we magnify God 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.