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.

The immense but achievable responsibility of believers

Being faithful requires constant, intentional commitment.

Philippians 2:12-13 – Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose.

Many times this passage is reviewed by looking only at verse 12 regarding the working out of one’s own salvation, and stopping short of verse 13. But verse 13 is the engine behind the ignition key of verse 12, because Paul is conveying that the work that was being done was actually God working in them according to his good purpose.

This passage touches on the duality of the believer’s existence: seeking to be a conduit for the outworking of God in both principle and action. The way to accomplish this effectively, according to Paul, is to do this “with fear and trembling.” I have a sense that many believers today have either lost this sense or never been instructed in it in the first place. This fear and trembling is a principle which conveys that we need to be thoughtful and circumspect in our lives, considering the gravity and eternal impact of our actions upon ourselves, our families, and others.

To be a believer in the Messiah carries with it a strong purpose which demands constancy and vigilance in intentional living. It means making choices for righteousness in situations that may not be the consideration of others who are not believers. Sometimes it means sacrificing elements of comfort or ease for the sake of others. Many times our time, energy, and resources will be spent for the sake of someone else.

All through this epistle, Paul is conveying the principles of this way of life to the Philippian believers.

For example, he touches on the principle of understanding what is right:

Philippians 1:9-11 – And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, so that you may approve the things that are superior and may be pure and blameless in the day of Messiah, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Yeshua Messiah to the glory and praise of God.

He also shares the responsibility they have in suffering for doing what’s right:

Philippians 1:29-30 – For it has been granted to you on Messiah’s behalf not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are engaged in the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I have.

These were real experiences based on real decisions that they had to make every day that played into their experiences as believers in Messiah.

Now while all of this may sound very heavy and burdensome, we can also be encouraged from their example, as Paul was convinced of God’s ability to bring all righteousness to pass. He encouraged them that once the work that was begun in them was underway, it would ultimately come to fulfillment.

Philippians 1:6 – I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Messiah Yeshua.

If Paul is to be believed, the “working out” of their salvation was indeed accomplished. They had proven faithful in what he had taught them regarding the faith once received for all the saints, as Jude calls it (Jude 1:3).

If we learn nothing else from the early believers in Messiah, the life of faith was one of constant struggle and commitment with real consequences. This required a whole level of commitment that I believe is rarely seen among modern believers today. It is up to us to demonstrate the same vigilance in outworking the principles of righteousness in this generation. And even if we don’t yet have a full understanding of all that God expects of us, we have this continuing encouragement from Paul as a guiding principle:

Philippians 3:16 – In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained.


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.

Pleasing God through holy prayer

We should simply be obedient to his plain will for us.

As the apostle Paul provides Timothy instruction on correct doctrine and appropriate conduct within the congregation, he begins to focus on the various groups within the assembly: men, women, widows, and slaves, along with the roles of overseers and deacons.

But first and foremost is the admonition to prayer; praying specifically for leaders and officials so that the message of the kingdom can be spread through the peaceful lives of obedient believers.

1 Timothy 2:1-2, 8 – First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. … I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands apart from anger or quarreling…

While violence was common in that generation and persecution was ever present, the kingdom message had been historically spreading through the persecutions and scatterings of the believers, even the persecution brought on by Paul himself prior to his conversion.

Acts 8:3-4 – “But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.”

However, as Paul’s missionary efforts throughout the empire were coming to fruition in the waning years of his life, he encourages prayer for peaceful and dignified existence to exhibit the wonderful salvation of God to all.

1 Timothy 2:3-4 – “This [praying for leaders and peace and harmony] is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

I can’t think of a more timely and appropriate lesson that we could learn from the Bible at this time in history. Our country and our world is becoming more fractured and oppositional with each passing week and month. If believers, instead of chastising administrations and leaders would instead join together and pray for them, “lifting up holy hands apart from anger and quarreling,” we may see real change towards peace and harmony. God’s desire of people experiencing salvation and coming to the knowledge of the truth could become much more of a reality than we are currently seeing.

Out of all of the actions we as believers can take in influencing this world, praying for leaders and for peace and unity is something that only we can do. If we believe we have been set apart as God’s people, then, as his children, we have the right and responsibility to petition him for this to come to pass. This is not an opportunity for us to lift up our preferred candidate over others, but a chance to ask for God’s involvement and enlightening of all those in authority, that they would make decisions that honor him and not just try to influence the polling statistics.

If this is something that pleases God, then we should simply be obedient to his plain and hopeful will for us, and the obligation that he has laid out for believers. If we consider ourselves holy and set apart, then it is time for us to act like 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 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 believer’s role of enriching others

Stirring up the natural flow of generosity.

2 Corinthians 8:9 -“For you know the grace of our Lord Yeshua Messiah, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might become rich.”

In one of the most protracted sections of the Bible on provision for others, the apostle Paul conveys the importance of the Corinthian congregation’s participation in assisting the poorer congregations in the Jerusalem area.

In his commentary, Albert Barnes provides the historical backdrop that prompted Paul’s gentle prodding of their support.

“The occasion of this distress which made the collection for the saints of Judea necessary, was probably the famine which was predicted by Agabus, and which occurred in the time of Claudius Caesar, Acts 11:28. Barnabas was associated with Paul in conveying the contribution to Jerusalem, Acts 6:30. Paul was unwilling to do it unless they particularly desired it, and he seems to have insisted that some person should be associated with him…”

Essentially, Paul was trying to be faithful in garnering support for fellow believers who were suffering due to lack. Congregations in other areas of the world where Paul was ministering had more resources to provide, and Paul was attempting to help out those early congregations that had sprung up in Judea. They were worthy of this assistance, since they were among the earliest of congregations that had led to the growing faith of the missionary congregations of Asia and Greece.

Romans 15:25-27 – “But now, I say, I am going to Jerusalem, serving the saints. For it has been the good pleasure of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are at Jerusalem. Yes, it has been their good pleasure, and they are their debtors. For if those among the nations have been made partakers of their spiritual things, they owe it to them also to serve them in fleshly things.”

Since the missionary congregations had benefited from the spiritual assistance of the Judean groups, Paul argues, the least they could do in return was to provide them assistance in their practical needs.

However, the motivation for doing so is contained in the work of Messiah. Paul writes “that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might become rich.” Yeshua’s example of enriching others at his own expense was the touchstone for all righteous behavior. Yeshua had modeled true servanthood that was to be copied and exhibited by his followers in all things.

As believers, we should be compassionate because we have received compassion; we should love because we have been loved; we should give freely because we have received freely. Our motivation for assisting others experiencing spiritual or practical needs should be a spontaneous reflex, not an obligation.

Paul prays for their anticipated generosity with words that we can still take to heart today.

2 Corinthians 9:10-11 – Now may he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, supply and multiply your seed for sowing, and increase the fruits of your righteousness, you being enriched in everything to all generosity, which produces thanksgiving to God through 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.

Religious is not always better

The qualities in the heart are what matter.

1 Timothy 1:12-17 – “I give thanks to Messiah Yeshua our Lord who has strengthened me, because he considered me faithful, appointing me to the ministry ​– ​ even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an arrogant man. But I received mercy because I acted out of ignorance in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed, along with the faith and love that are in Messiah Yeshua.
This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: “Messiah Yeshua came into the world to save sinners” ​– ​and I am the worst of them. But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Messiah Yeshua might demonstrate his extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in him for eternal life.”

Most people assume that the apostle Paul here is recognizing that his former lifestyle as a persecutor of the early believers was a shameful episode of his life that he continued to be repentant of. This is not an incorrect conclusion. However, if we look a little more deeply at the characteristics he mentions that he had displayed, we may come to a slightly richer answer.

Paul did mention he persecuted the early believing congregations, and of course this would be a heinous act to one who has come to know the truth of Messiah. But he also mentions he was a blasphemer. How could that be, since he was the strictest of the Pharisees, according to his own admission?

Acts 26:4-5 – “All the Jews know my way of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own people and in Jerusalem. “They have known me for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived as a Pharisee.

Philippians 3:4-6 – …If anyone else thinks he has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised the eighth day; of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; regarding the law, a Pharisee; … regarding the righteousness that is in the law, blameless.

If he was blameless according to the law, how could he have been a blasphemer? Well, today we think of blasphemy as speaking against God, something we could imagine a Pharisee would never do. However, the original Greek word carried a slightly broader meaning of slander toward sacred things or individuals who were of high authority, not just God alone. Timothy was accused of “blaspheming” against Moses and God (Acts 6:11). Peter likewise derides those false prophets among them who were callously slandering authority of “those having glory” whom even angels dared not bring accusations against (2 Peter 2:10-11).

Paul also mentioned he was an “arrogant man.” The Greek word can mean an insulter, or a violent maltreater. It is the root of where we get the English word “hubris,” meaning pride, but in a violent and potentially physically harmful way. Paul knew that Yeshua taught against both blasphemy and evil-acting pride as being negative qualities coming from the heart.

Mark 7:21-23 – “For from within, out of people’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, evil actions, deceit, self-indulgence, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. “All these evil things come from within and defile a person.”

Paul knew that even though he was about as religious as he could be, his heart and his actions were still not right. When he came to know Messiah, he recognized that he was defiled because of these hateful and dangerous characteristics that were based in a divisive, arrogant theology mixed with traditions of men and superstitions. Everything he had worked for in his whole life: his status, his understanding of Israel in the world, his role as a teacher in the synagogues; everything had to be reevaluated and whatever was unnecessary needed to be ripped away in repentance and obedience to his Lord and Messiah.

Philippians 3:8-9 – I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Messiah Yeshua my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Messiah and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Messiah ​– ​the righteousness from God based on faith.

Did Paul receive mercy and forgiveness because he was such a good person? Of course not, none of us has! Paul says he was shown mercy “so that in me, the worst of [sinners], Messiah Yeshua might demonstrate his extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in him for eternal life.”

Isn’t that true for all of us who believe in Messiah? If we are being honest with ourselves, it is certainly not by anything we have done or gotten God’s attention for. We have been brought to faith in Messiah so that God can be shown to be the great and Merciful One who forgives even such as we were: faithless, ignorant and self-serving. And we are being changed, transformed into what he desires all people to be.

2 Corinthians 3:18 – We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Romans 12:2 – Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Transforming the religious and ignorant and unbelieving into his image who accomplishes his will on the earth: this is what the life of a believer is all about. We just need to keep in mind, as Paul reminds us, to recognize how utterly destitute and harmful we were before knowing God and the power of new life in Messiah, and that all of this is solely for God’s glory and God’s 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 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.

All types of gifts have value in the life of the congregation

The community of Messiah is far more than just a weekly event.

1 Corinthians 12:20-25 – As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you! ” Or again, the head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you! ” On the contrary, those parts of the body that are weaker are indispensable. And those parts of the body that we consider less honorable, we clothe these with greater honor, and our unrespectable parts are treated with greater respect, which our respectable parts do not need. Instead, God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the less honorable, so that there would be no division in the body, but that the members would have the same concern for each other.

The Commentary of the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges relates the following in regard to this passage of Scripture:

“God had specially provided against this [schisms in the body] by giving to those who occupy the less honourable and ornamental positions in society the compensation of being the most indispensable portions of it. The ‘comely parts’—the wealthy, the refined, the cultivated, the intellectual—obtain honour and respect by the very nature of their gifts. God has signified His Will that due honour and respect should be paid to those to whom it is not instinctively felt to be owing, by so ordering society that we cannot do without them. But our class distinctions and jealousies, our conflicts between capital and labour, shew how little Christians have realized this obvious truth.”

It would seem that we still need to learn these lessons today. While the passage under consideration is less about social class convention and more about differing gifts and abilities, it is true that gatherings of believers have become less community-oriented and more focused on becoming an event that one attends. Those “less honorable” parts of this community are becoming more and more marginalized to where they have less opportunity to participate meaningfully in the life of the congregation. In a sense, class distinctions among believers still persist.

Applying the metaphor that Paul provides, believing congregations represent the body of Messiah to the world. If one is not even caring for the extremities of one’s own body, how can the body function as it should? Paul’s admonition to the Corinthian body is that “the members would have the same concern for each other.” The word used here for concern is actually a Greek phrase meaning “over-anxious to the point of distraction.” It’s the same phrase used by Yeshua in the famous passage in Matthew 6 about not being anxious for tomorrow.

Matthew 6:34 – “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

It seems odd to apply this same type of anxiety to the care and concern believers should be exhibiting for one another. Can we truly say we are “anxious to the point of distraction” about the well-being of others and for the equality of different types of spiritual gifts that may be exhibited in our believing community?

1 Corinthians 12:18 – But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.

Paul says that the differences in ability and gifting among us exist for the purpose of causing us to be a diverse community with spiritual abilities far beyond just any one of us as individuals. We need to learn to recognize the value that these diverse abilities and gifts provide the whole for the sake of honoring the God who has put the body together just the way he wants it to be.


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 single, powerful stroke of contrast

Forgiveness is firmly integrated in the inner workings of love.

1 Corinthians 13:5 – “[Love] is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not easily provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs.”

As an artist, I enjoy how each layer of a painting can modify the overall image, and enhance the original idea to the point of sometimes changing the picture completely. Typically, this is something that is controlled through the use of various shading and highlighting to bring out the intended emphasis. As a painting is nearing completion, I enjoy the highlighting aspect most of all because it begins to bring focus to the whole image.

On occasion, I have attempted to paint multiple paintings at once based on the same theme to see if I could duplicate an idea. No matter how hard I tried, even using the same colors and brushes, each finished painting would have a slightly different “feel” than the others.

I recently had a dream where I was commissioned to paint four similar paintings of a cabin in a snowstorm. In this dream, I was using the same colors and brushes, but I was purposely changing the brush technique to see how each painting’s emphasis would shift. All of the paintings were very dark and dreary, showing the intensity of the snowstorm.

Then, in an unintentional movement of my hand in the fourth painting, I had inadvertently created a shadow behind the roof of the cabin. It was a simple and quick move of the brush, and suddenly the entire character of the painting was transformed. Instead of the harsh, dreary, and hopeless nature of the the other three paintings, there was suddenly the sense of light breaking through the storm and creating this inadvertent shadow. The contrast of the single shadow changed the emotion of the painting from one of hopelessness into one of hope. The sun had broken through the snowy maelstrom in one small area of light, hinting that the storm would pass.

The reason this type of contrast is significant is because in art, contrast creates depth and meaning. A painting that is uniformly and methodically structured, even if done with great skill, lacks emotional impact and appears washed-out.

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he has, in my estimation, penned the most comprehensive practical definition of love that exists. Most English versions will convey verse 5 as “[love] does not keep a record of wrongs.” In the original Greek, the sentiment conveys a harsher tone, more literally rendered as “[love] takes no accounting of the evil.”

In taking no accounting of the evil in others, we will need to operate within the principle of forgiveness. To forgive others is the only way that we can not take into account some evil that they may have done toward us. Just like in the painting process, forgiveness provides the contrast where all other natural responses of anger and resentment paint a washed-out picture of hopelessness. Forgiveness is the spark, the singular, powerful stroke of contrast that imbues a relationship with the depth and emotion that provides hope. It’s the sunlight through the snowstorm.

Matthew 18:21-22 – “Then Peter approached him and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? As many as seven times? ” “I tell you, not as many as seven,” Yeshua replied, “but seventy times seven.”

We may not be able to control the way others choose to interact with us, but we can control our reaction to their influence in our lives. As believers, we are urged to provide forgiveness which contrasts with the world’s way of dealing with resentment. This single, powerful stroke of contrast makes us stand out from others and honors the One who desires us to be the catalyst of restorative and hope-filled relationships, just as He has been with 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 faith of the righteous opposes all adversity

As people of integrity, we are obligated to stand firm for what’s right.

Proverbs 11:3 – The integrity of the upright guides them, but the perversity of the treacherous destroys them.

Most of the proverbs of Solomon are stand-alone nuggets of wisdom providing a snapshot of insight into a specific aspect of life. In chapter 11, however, there are several similar proverbs grouped together in the same passage that carry a consistent message. Here are some of those examples.

Proverbs 11:5 – The righteousness of the blameless clears his path, but the wicked person will fall because of his wickedness.
Proverbs 11:6 – The righteousness of the upright rescues them, but the treacherous are trapped by their own desires.
Proverbs 11:23 – The desire of the righteous turns out well, but the hope of the wicked leads to wrath.

All of these proverbs are centered around the actions of the righteous or upright, those exhibiting integrity. The integrity they have is represented as guiding them, clearing a path for them and rescuing them, with the end result being favorable for them.

The same Hebrew word used for integrity is the same word found in only one other book of the Bible: Job. Job was consistent in maintaining his integrity or innocence before God.

Job 2:3, 9-10 – Then Yahweh said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? No one else on earth is like him, a man of perfect integrity, who fears God and turns away from evil. He still retains his integrity, even though you incited me against him, to destroy him for no good reason.” … His wife said to him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die! ” “You speak as a foolish woman speaks,” he told her. “Should we accept only good from God and not adversity? ” Throughout all this Job did not sin in what he said.

Job 27:3-6 – as long as my breath is still in me and the breath from God remains in my nostrils, my lips will not speak unjustly, and my tongue will not utter deceit. I will never affirm that you are right. I will maintain my integrity until I die. I will cling to my righteousness and never let it go. My conscience will not accuse me as long as I live!

Job 31:5-6 – If I have walked in falsehood or my foot has rushed to deceit, let God weigh me on accurate scales, and he will recognize my integrity.

True to the wisdom of the proverbs, Job was ultimately rewarded for his faithfulness. By holding on to his integrity through the worst of circumstances, he was guided on a cleared path through his adversity and rescued out of his troubles. In the end he was blessed more abundantly than before his troubles had begun.

I recognize that most people typically view Job as an example of questioning God when bad things happen to good people. However, I think there is an opportunity to see just how courageous someone has to be to maintain their integrity and blamelessness amidst the harshest of physical circumstances while having extended dialogues with those of contrary opinion.

As believers in Messiah, we should be challenged by Job’s example as to how far we are willing to go to stand for the principles of integrity. Paul wrote to the Romans to remind them of their status before God because of their faith in Messiah:

Romans 5:1 – Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Yeshua Messiah.

Paul also wrote to Titus to encourage his congregation to maintain a righteous and godly life:

Titus 2:11-12 – For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age…

We live daily amidst cultural influences which constantly assault our belief in right beliefs and right actions. May we be emboldened to say with Job: “as long as my breath is still in me and the breath from God remains in my nostrils, my lips will not speak unjustly, and my tongue will not utter deceit,” and “I will cling to my righteousness and never let it go. My conscience will not accuse me as long as I live!” If we do so, then according to the wisdom of Solomon, the righteousness and integrity we have by faith will guide us, clear a path for us, and rescue us, allowing God to favor us as he sees fit in this life and into eternity.


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 power of eternity

We act on what we know to be true.

Hebrews 10:32-34 – “But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.”

The writer of the book of Hebrews is considered by many to have been the apostle Paul; however, textual critics have legitimate reasons for remaining skeptical. Regardless of the author, some of the greatest truths about the earliest faith of the Messiah believers is captured within its pages.

In this passage, the author is reminding the believers of the physical struggles and hardship they endured with the result being increased compassion for those who were ultimately imprisoned for their faith.

These believers may have been some of those who had come under the early persecution after the martyrdom of Stephen, ironically, overseen by the pre-believing Saul of Tarsus who would later become the apostle Paul.

Acts 8:1, 3 – “Saul agreed with putting [Stephen] to death. On that day a severe persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the land of Judea and Samaria. … Saul, however, was ravaging the church. He would enter house after house, drag off men and women, and put them in prison.”

Additionally, the text in the epistle to the Hebrews says the believers “joyfully accepted the plundering of [their] property.” That is such a foreign concept for us today, as personal property rights are practically held as sacred.

This small glimpse into the world of the early believers shows us why they could remain joyful even though their belongings were being confiscated or destroyed: it was because they knew they had a better and lasting possession within the hope of their faith. The promise of eternity far outweighed their earthly struggles, and this comforted them greatly, even to the point of being joyful during some of the most demeaning and demoralizing events that could occur. They were living out the admonition of the apostle Paul when he wrote:

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 – “Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Through their trials and suffering, they were enabled to demonstrate legitimate compassion and assistance to those who were hit the hardest through the persecution they had endured, and they were also strengthened within themselves with the knowledge of eternity.

Having an eternal perspective changes everything: whether being stressed at work or in relationships at home, having financial or resource challenges; all of these things pale in light of eternity. Through that veil of spiritual understanding, we are empowered to become more compassionate and encouraging, recognizing and acting on what is truly important and needful in this life, all to the honor and glory 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 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.

Forgiveness that creates unity among believers

Opinions do not equate to biblical core doctrine.

Romans 14:4 – Who are you to judge another’s household servant? Before his own Lord he stands or falls. And he will stand, because the Lord is able to make him stand.

I really dislike commenting on Romans 14 because I believe it is such a widely misunderstood passage. The root of Paul’s teaching, while true, unfortunately seems to get painted as a “live and let live” philosophy about any and all doctrinal differences that believers may have about what they believe, and yet that is not actually the case.

I believe that what Paul is commenting on is the unforgiving spirit between believers who have differences of opinion about man-made tradition and practice, some things having value, but not all. These man-made traditions are not necessary for all to believe like the cornerstone doctrines of the faith.

Here Paul lists some of those differences of opinions:

Romans 14:5-6 – One person judges one day to be more important than another day. Someone else judges every day to be the same. Let each one be fully convinced in his own mind. Whoever observes the day, observes it for the honor of the Lord. Whoever eats, eats for the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; and whoever does not eat, it is for the Lord that he does not eat it, and he gives thanks to God.

These issues are discussing the man-made traditions, specifically fasting on days that were considered special days that had arisen among the Jews and some believers. Some even included multiple days each week, as illustrated by the parable of Yeshua:

Luke 18:11-12 – “The Pharisee was standing and praying like this about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I’m not like other people ​– ​greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.'”

Why was he fasting twice a week? There is no command within the Torah to do so. The only fast that is commanded is that of the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. There was no other honoring of other days for fasting, whether for personal self-righteousness (as this Pharisee represents) or communal observance.

Additionally, Luke represents that the disciples of John the baptizer also fasted regularly, along with those restrictive practices of the Pharisees.

Luke 5:33 – “Then they said to him, “John’s disciples fast often and say prayers, and those of the Pharisees do the same, but yours eat and drink.”

It would seem that many Jewish believers who had been raised with these traditions, along with disciples who had come to Messiah under the ministry of John the baptizer began to carry them over into their New Covenant practices, and were encouraging others to do so, as well. Even today orthodox Jews have three other annual fast days on their traditional annual calendar that are not commanded within the Torah. This demonstrates how hard it is to kill these types of traditions.

The Jews had many restrictions and designations for honoring days that arose far above the holy calendar that God had provided in Torah. In this passage, Paul is trying to create a sense of unity between the believers. There were plenty of different traditions they had been raised in, but he was encouraging them not to judge one another about issues that were not clearly commanded in Torah.

Romans 14:1 – “Accept anyone who is weak in faith, but don’t argue about disputed matters.”

According to Strong’s definitions, “arguing” about these “disputed matters” is a phrase which literally means “passing judgment on discussions, considerations, or debates.” It would have been illogical and quite honestly heretical for Paul to consider legitimate commands within the Torah as being “debatable” opinions. He himself kept the Fast of Yom Kippur and the commands of the Torah (see Acts 18:21; 21:24). These have never been in question among believers in the one true God.

I believe Romans 14 is about Paul trying to minimize the unjust judgment that was going on among believers in the congregation. Those who were mistreating or arguing with others who were disagreeing over points of opinion rather than true doctrinal issues.

Romans 14:10 – But you, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.

Paul is encouraging some latitude among the believers because they were all subservient to the one true God. There should not be disputes over opinions and preferences; Paul implies those things may have been helpful to those immature believers in their new-found faith. Those who relied on these traditional practices were to be shown grace by the more mature believers for the sake of the unity of the congregations. As they were to grow in the faith, God could change their hearts as they began to recognize the futility of the man-made traditions, and that would take time.

Unfortunately, we see the same thing today among believing congregations. People will argue vehemently over how to dress when meeting together, or what time of day the meeting should take place, or what type of music should be performed. I have seen disputes over whether chairs or pews should be used or if children should be included in the meetings or separated out. ALL of these issues are non-essential to the faith and have caused strife and unnecessary divisions within the kingdom of God today.

However, if we can take Paul’s advice and learn rather to accept one another’s misunderstandings about these “debatable” issues, we can exhibit forgiveness that creates unity among God’s people that others will be able to recognize, to God’s glory and honor.


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.