The requirement of blessing the haters

According to Yeshua, the words we speak always come from the overflow of the heart.

Core of the Bible podcast #84 – The requirement of blessing the haters

Today we will be looking at the topic of forgiveness, especially in the context of speaking well of those who are haters because, according to Yeshua, the words we speak always come from the overflow of the heart. Understanding who we have become in Messiah allows us the privilege of blessing all others.

Luke 6:28 – “Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.”

Our words are important, and in this day of instant and voluminous communication, there are numberless words spent daily in the vast sea of our digital culture. Not all of that communication is helpful, and much of it is downright hurtful. However, as believers, all of our words should be a blessing to others.

The definition of the word that we translate as blessing means to “speak well of” to “praise” or to “wish for the prosperity of.” It is the same word that we get our English word eulogy: an example of speaking well of someone who has recently died or delivering a benediction of well-wishing upon a person or group of people. To bless others is to speak well of them and wish them prosperity and wholeness.

This seems simple and natural among friends and family, but we are commanded by Yeshua to have this same level of concern and care for those outside of our common circle, and in fact, with those who would seek to do us harm. In the verse above, he commands us to bless those who curse us, and to pray for those who would seek to hurt us. This is certainly not a natural response to aggressive behavior, as we will typically be far more likely to respond in like kind toward any aggression or hurt we receive. However, this messianic type of well-speaking is a root sentiment that the apostles taught among the early believers, as well:

Romans 12:14 – Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.

1 Peter 3:9 – Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it.

I find it interesting that Peter attaches two distinct aspects to this practice: 1) This is what believers have been called to do, and 2) God provides blessings for those who do. So, to bless others is not only to fulfill our calling that we have received from God, but it is also to receive a blessing from God in return. If we feel that we are outside of God’s blessing at times, perhaps it is because this required practice is lacking in our lives.

In regard to our calling, when we peruse the writings to find out what our calling as believers is, we can see that we have been called to join together with Messiah in the highest standards of freedom, peaceful unity, serving one another in love, and in endurance through suffering.

1 Corinthians 1:9 – “God is faithful; you were called by him into fellowship with his Son, Yeshua Messiah our Lord.”

Galatians 5:13-14 – “For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Ephesians 4:1, 4 – “Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to live worthy of the calling you have received, … There is one body and one Spirit ​– ​just as you were called to one hope at your calling …”

Colossians 3:14-15 – “Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful.”

1 Peter 2:20-21 – “For what credit is there if when you do wrong and are beaten, you endure it? But when you do what is good and suffer, if you endure it, this brings favor with God. For you were called to this, because Messiah also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”

These various aspects are the true calling of all believers, and yet it does not appear that we all have come to understand these things very well. With all of the denominational divisiveness and inflammatory rhetoric we express towards each other at times, it seems unlikely that we are living up to our true calling in the eyes of Messiah. If we can’t even speak well with each other among ourselves, how can we be expected to speak well of those who are truly antagonistic towards us or toward the cause of Messiah and the Kingdom of God?

If, as Peter instructs, we are called to “pay back with blessing,” then we should understand this is an obligation we have, not an optional action of some kind. Most people understand that disagreements can quickly escalate into heightened conflict, and this comes primarily at the urging of inflamed emotional responses. However, we have been tasked with preventing the escalation from happening in the first place by not elevating tension; we should be removing the escalation through blessing of others, instead. Because a conflict is typically initiated when one party feels they have been wronged in some way, if they are to truly speak blessing into conflict, they must have a reserve of forgiveness that cannot be exhausted. When we can really and honestly forgive offenses from the heart, we can much more easily speak blessing into those environments. And since this is our calling, it must become the primary way we respond and communicate with each other and with others who would seek to discredit or harm us.

In a moment we will consider how this can be expected to be the calling of believers, even if the natural inclination of our hearts is to respond with equal or greater aggression. The apostle Paul addresses this very idea with the Corinthian congregation which will hopefully allow us to better understand our true status as believers in this world.

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The real challenge we face in our calling is in not only speaking well of anyone who could be considered an adversary, but truly meaning it from the heart. This requires a type of ongoing forgiveness for the wrongs that any others may commit against us. And yet, for our blessing of others to be genuine it has to come from the heart.

Certainly, as we have seen, this is not a natural inclination. But as believers, we have to recognize that we are not just natural beings. The apostle Paul speaks of it this way:

2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

Paul makes the point that as believers we no longer are to view our life in this world as we have in the past. If we are living the born-again life from above, we have become part of the new creation, and everything is now new. We have new thought process which should drive new actions and new ways of doing things. We have new convictions and new purpose. Everything we see and touch should be driven from this new identity we have in Messiah. This means that we now have new hearts with new qualities and capacities, as well.

With this new calling and purpose, we can now receive the new blessings that come from God based on the righteous words and actions that flow from a renewed heart. The fruit of our way can now be blessed because our way has been renewed to mimic his own ways. We can now operate as God’s image in this world, managing and interacting with his creation in ways he has originally designed for us to do from the foundation of the world.

Luke 6:45 – “A good person produces good out of the good stored up in his heart. An evil person produces evil out of the evil stored up in his heart, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.”

Yeshua instructs us that we are not to call someone a fool or an idiot or be unrighteously angry with anyone because the words we speak always come from the overflow of the heart. He teaches us that if what is in our heart is bitterness and unforgiveness, then that is what will come out of our mouth. However, if what is in our heart is real love and forgiveness as part of God’s new creation, then what comes out of our mouth will be genuine blessing for others.

This heart idea was not a new concept for those with a Hebraic understanding of the world. A millennium before Messiah, Solomon wrote of the importance of the heart condition in the well-being of the earnest believer in Yahweh.

Proverbs 4:23 – “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it is the wellspring of life.”

Keeping of the heart involves a recognition of its content and capacity. If, as believers in the new creation we understand our heart has been renewed, that is, fundamentally changed, we can begin to see how a requirement of forgiveness and blessing toward others can be an expectation that God has for us. Suddenly this lofty ambition does not seem so unattainable because God has now given us the ability to function with this unlimited capacity for forgiveness towards others. The wellspring of life now becomes “rivers of living water” that Yeshua promised for those who would believe in him.

John 7:38-39 – “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom thosCSe believing in Him would receive…

If we are part of God’s new creation, then his Spirit has changed the very make up of our hearts into a conduit for his very own love and mercy to be extended toward others. A river is a powerful metaphor, because a river flows from somewhere (God) and flows to somewhere (others). We are merely a conduit of this river which we can then direct towards all those we meet and interact with.

Following in the footsteps of Solomon’s wisdom in Proverbs, the apostle James illustrates it in this fashion:

James 3:8-12 – “But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.”

When it is boiled down to essentials, the issue is really not our tongue, but the well-spring of our heart. If the spring is fresh water, then the tongue will yield fresh water for others. If, in obedience to Yeshua, we are to truly bless those who work against us at all times, then we need to ensure that our spring, our river of the heart, is flowing from the Spirit of God with unlimited measures of real forgiveness. Then no wrongs can be too harsh, no hurt can be too severe. Our obligation to bless the haters becomes as natural as the air that we breathe within the rarefied atmosphere of the new creation. In this way, blessing and prayer for all others will become the living water flowing from our hearts.


If you enjoy these daily articles, 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

Creating peace in a world of chaos

The believer’s mission in society is all about promoting peace where it does not currently exist.

The believer’s mission in society is all about promoting peace where it does not currently exist.

Romans 12:16-18 – Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Paul was writing to the Roman believers to instill in them a strong foundation in not only the doctrinal facets of their faith but the practical aspects, as well. In summarizing the believers’ responsibilities toward others, Paul latches on to one of the most profound teachings of Messiah:

Matthew 5:44 – But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…

Paul conveys this as, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse,” (Romans 12:14). Why would the Roman believers need to hear this unless they were indeed being persecuted for their faith? Paul goes even further to quote this consistent biblical ethic as it was stated by Solomon in the proverbs.

Romans 12:20 – But If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head.

Boiled down into a modern vernacular, what Paul, Solomon, and Yeshua all appear to be saying is that doing nice things to those who are not nice to you results in them feeling the heat of shame at having been mean to you, vividly described as having hot coals poured on their head. To bless them when they are persecuting you means to say and do nice things to them even though they are oppressing you.

But we can only be nice in the face of opposition when we are not reacting with like emotion for like. We have to bring a new resource to the conflict, a resource of forgiveness and desire for love and open communication. Paul says to not repay evil with evil, but instead, to “overcome evil with good,” (Romans 12:21). This is the only way peace can be promoted within a society of divided interests.

We live in an age where this type of divisive environment breeds at an accelerated pace due to the instantaneous communication channels available to us as the internet continues to link the world together. To make matters worse, many oppressors feel empowered to spread conflict by remaining anonymous behind user names. For those of us who are tasked with being peacemakers, there is no small challenge in trying to remain unaffected by comments and commentary that cannot be unseen or unheard. Yet, as believers, if we are directly confronted by these anonymous pot-stirrers, we are tasked with praying for them and blessing them, which is to speak kindly toward and about them regardless of their harmful attitudes.

Online communication aside, we must not allow those hateful attitudes to spill over into our real world interactions with others. While we have an obligation to remain informed on the important cultural issues of the day, we must withhold the reactive impulse to debate acquaintances and family on the same level of animosity that may be thrust at us. Whenever we are confronting the evils of our day, we must do so with a spirit of gentleness, kindness, and goodness. Otherwise we are simply adding fuel to the raging fires of contemporary debate.

Paul encourages believers, “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” For us to do so, we must be thoughtful and consistent in our responses. Our mission is to share the love of God but to do so without compromising the truth of his Word. This may sound simple, but it is incredibly nuanced and at times extremely difficult, as many hard facts about God’s truth can appear intolerant to others. But this is what we are called to do. This is how we, as living sacrifices, are challenged with navigating the cultural debates of our day.

2 Timothy 2:24-25 – The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth.

We should never want to be responsible for shutting the gates of Zion to those who most need to gain entrance. If we are faithful to this consistent instruction throughout God’s Word, we provide opportunities for reconciliation where there were previously none. We can learn to be promoters of peace and calm amidst the chaos of popular opinion, but it takes careful thought and reasoned intention. We can become the peacemakers that both Yeshua and Paul encouraged their followers 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 formula for eradicating evil in the world

Loving others is both an inward motivation and an outward practicality.

Core of the Bible podcast #42 – The formula for eradicating evil in the world

Today we will be exploring the topic of forgiveness, and how forgiveness lies at the root of all reconciliation and overcoming dissension between individuals. We will see that through forgiveness and love, all evil can be overcome.

Yeshua stated it this way:

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. … You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘Hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:38, 43-44

This teaching of Yeshua is one of the most widely known yet least practiced of all of his precepts. This is because it is non-intuitive and frankly, difficult. It involves two aspects, both an inward motivation and an outward practicality.

We know that the Bible teaches us our inward motivations spur our outward actions.

Luke 6:45 – “A good person produces good out of the good stored up in his heart. An evil person produces evil out of the evil stored up in his heart, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.

Since Yeshua teaches us that inward understanding and wisdom drives outward actions and behavior, let’s begin our review of this passage by looking at his admonition to what our inward motivation should be in loving others.

Matthew 5:44 – But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…

For us to practice loving our enemies through our outward actions, we must first actually love them. Even writing or saying a statement like this runs counter to every basic instinct and inclination we have been exposed to in our culture. We have been brought up to be wary of others to avoid the risk of being taken advantage of. We gauge every interaction with an eye toward what angle is being played, or what harm we could possibly receive by misjudging someone else’s intent.

To this, Yeshua simply says to love them. Easy to say, not so easy to do. How do you love someone whom you know has harmed you in some way and is not deserving of your love? Forgive them, so your love can be real. What about someone who is trying to take advantage of you? Here’s one way: give them the advantage.

Is there a chance your forgiveness will be disregarded? Yes, but maintain that forgiveness anyway. Is there a chance you will be taken advantage of? Yes. But continue to give advantage anyway. These possibilities (and quite frankly, likely outcomes) do not change Yeshua’s direction to love others through forgiving them and giving them advantage.

Peter also struggled with this concept in a discussion with Yeshua about forgiveness of others:

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,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven.

Yeshua then goes on to tell the parable of the unmerciful servant who would not forgive a small debt from someone else after he had just been forgiven of a huge personal debt from his own master. Yeshua said he would be punished for not passing on the forgiveness he received to others, and concludes with, “So also my heavenly Father will do to you unless every one of you forgives his brother or sister from your heart,” (Matthew 18:35).

Love and forgiveness need to come from the heart. They are two qualities tied at the hip. If we are unable to forgive, we are unable to love. If we are unable to love, we are unable to forgive. If we are unable to forgive and love, then we are also unable to pray for them. Yet Yeshua instructs us to not only love our enemies but to pray for them.

He demonstrated this himself even as the Roman soldiers were in the process of nailing him to a cross and executing him as a criminal among other criminals of the State.

Luke 23:33-34 – When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided his clothes and cast lots.

Unfortunately, in our human quest for justice and fairness, we stumble over what we personally think is fair and right based on our limited perspective. Yeshua could only extend forgiveness to his enemies and pray for them because he never lost his perspective. What they did out of deliberate anger, he knew was done out of ignorance. They meant to wound him; he knew it was to heal them. They meant to humiliate him; he knew it was so they could be lifted up into God’s presence. They meant to kill him; he knew it was to save them.

Yeshua never lost the perspective that people are made in God’s image and that all are deserving of the benefit of the doubt when a situation may look otherwise. He could love them and pray for them because he knew who they really were, even if they didn’t.

If we could allow God to change our perspective to see that all others are made in God’s image and are merely souls who have possibly not yet met the God of the universe, we might have a different approach in our dealings with them. This type of perspective can provide us the inward motivation of love and forgiveness necessary to accomplish the outward actions which will likely seem just as contradictory when we do them.


Okay, so now that we have looked at our inward motivation of love and forgiveness, let’s go back to the beginning of this teaching of Yeshua to see how it should be worked out in our lives through our actions.

Matthew 5:38-42 – You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to the one who asks you, and don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

In the life of the first-century Judeans, it was not unusual to be forced by the Roman military to carry supplies for them. In this example, Yeshua presents the measure of goodness he expected them to respond with needed to go above and beyond the unreasonable demand.

But something that has occurred to me in reviewing this passage recently is that this nature of giving is based on a multiplier. What Yeshua is implying through these examples is that our outward response should somehow be more than what an equal and reflexive response might be. We should be not only be non-resistant toward personal infractions, we should be doubly-giving in nature toward others.

For example, if someone is suing us for our shirt, we should double our goodness toward them by not only letting them have the shirt but the coat as well. If we were forced one mile of carrying supplies, then we should continue to do so by doubling the one mile into two.

This is a very practical, albeit difficult, principle that we can apply in situations that confront us every day. It involves us learning and training ourselves to respond in ways that honors God by doubling our goodness and generosity, not to merely respond in a reflexive way. By expending twice the effort in a positive manner than they demanded of us from a negative motivation, we would in essence be overcoming their evil intent with a double measure of good.

It’s simple math: a negative number plus a positive number of equal value only amounts to zero. It takes a positive number of higher value to end with a positive result.

Additionally, as we looked at previously, if we are inwardly motivated for their good by loving them and praying for them and their needs, we are removed from our reflexive, emotional response of like for like. We are now placing ourselves in a frame of mind, that godly perspective I mentioned earlier, which becomes concerned for their welfare. When we are in this mindset we can truly learn of their needs and then act doubly with genuine intention.

To show how this was an expected trait of the early believers and not just some lofty, speculative ideal, the apostle Paul instructs the Roman congregation with a similar admonition.

Romans 12:17-21 – Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord.

Paul quotes this Torah teaching instructing on vengeance by highlighting that only God can effectively mete out justice because only he knows the end from the beginning; only he knows every possibility that could apply in a situation. Therefore he is the only perfect judge to mete out any type of vengeance. We are incapable of true vengeance because we have limited knowledge and understanding. We have emotions that get in the way of the wisdom and understanding we do have, therefore the best course of action for us is simply to love, and let God do the rest.

Paul continues quoting Torah to conclude his line of thinking:

But If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head.  Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.

Our clear directive here is to overcome evil by doing good to others. Paul’s encouragement is that not only will we not be conquered, but we will ultimately successfully overcome evil by doing good.

Yeshua encourages us to double our godly response toward evil intent through love and forgiveness. Forgiveness is that necessary bridge to positive, loving responses. When we intentionally overlook a personal injustice by forgiving them, we are freed to be obedient to God’s command to double our loving actions. If we do not exercise forgiveness, we may attempt to be obedient, but our actions can become only hollow shadows with no real substance.

The motivation Yeshua provides us for practicing this kind of forgiveness and love is because when we do so, we are mimicking him, and we are mimicking our heavenly Father. If Yeshua loved and prayed for his enemies, so should we. If God blesses the wicked with life and rain and abundance, not because they are deserving, but because he wishes for their repentance, then we should also produce actions that bless those who may be adversarial to us.

Paul used this type of thinking in his outreach to the Greeks who did not know God, and he calls God’s blessing of them through rain and abundance his “testimony of goodness.” When interacting with crowds in Iconium and Athens, he speaks about the nature of the true God, and he relates how God blesses them.

Acts 14:17 – Yet He has not left Himself without testimony to His goodness: He gives you rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with food and gladness.

Acts 17:26-27 – From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands. God intended that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.

God’s goal is that through his goodness to all in natural abundance should lead people to seek his spiritual goodness.

In the same way, our intentional actions based on forgiveness and love, then, become our personal “testimony of goodness.” As a result, God is honored, people can be reconciled to him, and all evil intentions can be overcome with love.

In summary then, the typical human response in relationships is to respond in kind to how we are treated by others (eye for eye and tooth for tooth). A nobler aspiration would be to treat all people with an equal measure of kindness. However, Yeshua calls us to the highest level of interaction: not just to be kind to all, but to expend twice the effort and concern over those who are least deserving of it. This is true love, and the formula for eradicating evil in the world.

If we are to represent God as his children, we should be doing what he does by blessing the undeserving as well as the deserving. If we claim to be followers of Yeshua, we should do what he does by loving and praying for our enemies. By doubling our loving response to all negative interactions, we boldly exhibit Yeshua’s teaching to a world who needs to know him, where they can then be brought back into a relationship with the loving God of the universe. This is how forgiveness and love can overcome all wickedness, and the only sure way that God’s kingdom will be manifested 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 at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvR_aNEyA7WEZJtF4B8fZ6g

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