Reverence, humility, and helping others

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Holman CSB reads in a similar way:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notice what Job says:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul, in writing to the Philippian congregation, says:

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

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

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


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

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

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

Mimicking God by helping others

God’s children act like him.

In the New Testament writings, the Greek word that is typically translated as mercy is based on the root concept of compassion. One of the clearest definitions of this concept is captured in the Outline of Biblical Usage as, “mercy: kindness or good will towards the miserable and the afflicted, joined with a desire to help them.” This term is used in describing God’s actions towards mankind and also for people interacting with other people.

That compassion and mercy are so closely linked provides some insight into its nature. In biblical usage, compassion is both an emotion or feeling one has towards others and an action in the outward help or assistance one provides.

Yeshua constantly illustrated this concept for his followers; here are just a few examples:

Matthew 15:32 – Yeshua called his disciples and said, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they’ve already stayed with me three days and have nothing to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry, otherwise they might collapse on the way.”

Notice, Yeshua had a feeling of compassion towards the crowd because of their commitment to his teaching and their desire to learn, so his feeling of compassion resulted in an action: the miraculous feeding of them all.

Here is another instance in Luke’s gospel:

Luke 7:12-15 – Just as he neared the gate of the town, a dead man was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the city was also with her. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said, “Don’t weep.” Then he came up and touched the open coffin, and the pallbearers stopped. And he said, “Young man, I tell you, get up! ” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Yeshua gave him to his mother.

His feeling of compassion for the mother’s plight caused him to provide a miraculous resuscitation of the son who had died.

Now, you may be thinking, “Well, that is great for those individuals, but I don’t have the ability to create miracles to help other people.” But, isn’t that the point? Yeshua was doing the works of the Father; the Father was working through him to reach out to others. In the same way, whenever we extend compassion to others, from their perspective, it’s as if a miracle has occurred. Someone took pity on them and did something for them that they could not do for themselves when it was not required.

In saying this, I in no way want to cheapen legitimate miracles that Yeshua performed; however, I also can’t overstate how significant it is when we provide real help to those in need. You can probably understand this from your own experience whenever you may have received genuine help from someone else when you needed it most. It was likely an extremely significant occurrence for you.

Helping others who cannot help themselves IS God’s method of operation, and Yeshua demonstrated God’s mercy in action time after time in the gospels. So when we choose to follow Yeshua, it is expected that we also would extend God’s mercy to others, helping those who cannot help themselves, just as he did. In this way, we demonstrate we are truly God’s children when we act like him and have real concern and provide real care to those who need it most.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

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

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

Love unfeigned

It’s how we show true compassion for one another.

Romans 12:9-10 – “Let love be unfeigned. Abhor that which is evil; cling to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another…”

When love is encouraged in the NT writings, it is expressed with a Greek adjective sometimes translated in older versions of the Bible as unfeigned. While this can come across as an antiquated English word, the concept is a valid one. I think the word unfeigned captures it well and deserves much more use among believers today.

In ancient Greek culture, actors were called hypocrites because they would wear masks and pretend to be someone else. To feign can mean to impersonate someone else, or to act hypocritically, or to disguise one’s true intent. To feign is essentially to fake something. By contrast, if someone’s intent is unfeigned, it is therefore without hypocrisy; it is sincere, with no hidden agenda or misrepresentation.

Peter encouraged the believers to practice unfeigned love among themselves, saying it was an indication of pure souls who were following the truth of the Spirit of God.

1 Peter 1:22 – “Seeing you all have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that you all love one another with a pure heart fervently…”

Paul also encouraged compassion and love for one another that is real and without hypocrisy. It was not to be just for show or out of sense of compulsion, but it was to be genuine, sincere and from the heart. Paul stated this was characteristic of how the apostles operated within their physical service to the congregations:

2 Corinthians 6:3, 6 – “[We have given] no offence in any thing, that the ministry would not be blamed: … By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned…”

They had demonstrated all of their compassionate help and the sincerity of their ministry by providing shared resources and diligent teaching among the scattered believers through the most unimaginable difficulties of physical circumstances.

2 Corinthians 6:4-5 – “But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in riots, in labors, in watchfulness, in fastings…”

All of these things, Paul says, were demonstrations of their unfeigned love for the brethren; this is what unfeigned love looks like in practice.

The apostle John also condemns love that is expressed as lip service only and juxtaposes that aberration to the ideal of biblical love.

1 John 3:18 – “Little children, let us not love in word or speech only, but in action and in truth.”

Peter, Paul, and John were all pointing believers toward true compassionate love for one another that actually produces fruitful actions on behalf of others. John especially gets right to the heart of the matter by stating that Yeshua set the standard by laying down his life as an act of the purest and most sincere love.

1 John 3:16-17 – “This is how we have come to know love: He laid down his life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brethren. If anyone has this world’s goods and sees a fellow believer in need but withholds compassion from him ​– ​how does God’s love reside in him?”

According to these biblical principles, love unfeigned is a love that acts sincerely and through all difficulties to place the needs of others above ourselves. This should prompt us to thoughtfully and prayerfully consider the true level of our love and compassion for one another today.


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.

To trust God by serving others removes anxiety from our lives

Allowing God to work in our interest, not against us, requires faith.

1 Peter 5:5-7 – In the same way, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you.

Peter here is encouraging humility among those to whom he is writing. First for the elders and leaders of the congregations, and then for the young who might be resistant to authority. He then justifies this position with a quote from Proverbs 3:34, saying “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” In his context, Peter relates that a position of humility is preferred so that God can then lift them up at the appropriate time. This is reminiscent of the teaching of Yeshua:

Luke 14:8-11 – “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, don’t recline at the best place, because a more distinguished person than you may have been invited by your host. “The one who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in humiliation, you will proceed to take the lowest place. “But when you are invited, go and recline in the lowest place, so that when the one who invited you comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ You will then be honored in the presence of all the other guests. “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

By drawing on this imagery from Messiah, Peter is encouraging humility among all the believers so that God would then have opportunity to exalt them. In this way, Peter continues, there was no need to be anxious, since God would surely accomplish this in his perfect timing. Take care of others, he says, and God will take care of you.

Humbling oneself requires a deep trust in God. In humbling oneself, one must believe that there is a greater good for God’s purposes that can result from this humility, because our natural response is not to humble ourselves in the service and preference of others but to serve ourselves and our needs above others.

From Peter’s perspective when we focus on ourselves we tend to be more anxious, not knowing how we can achieve or gain what we need. Yet, when we humble ourselves and choose to put others before ourselves, our anxiety can be shed in this service of God, knowing that he is the One who cares for our needs. While we are busying ourselves with the needs of others, God is working quietly on our behalf, providing us favor in our time of need.

The proverb contrasts this state of grace and favor among the humble with an unfavorable alternative by saying that God actively resists the proud and arrogant. This idea goes back to a principle I believe is throughout the Bible: there are natural moral and spiritual consequences built into this Creation by God. In this instance, when one is arrogant, self-centered, and mocking others God has set bounds in place that work against that type of individual, whether socially, physically, or spiritually.

The apostle James also leverages this same quote from Proverbs for a similar use, in encouraging his hearers to get their eyes off praying for things they personally desire and onto the needs of others.

James 4:3-4, 6 – You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulterous people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the friend of the world becomes the enemy of God. … But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

Why should we place ourselves in an adversarial position against God by seeking our own elevated status and position? According to Peter and James, this is what happens when we seek our own desires above the needs of others. This condition creates anxiety for always having to gauge who we can trust and how we can maintain our standing.

Instead, when we demonstrate our trust in God and his design for the world by producing fruit of genuine humility and service for others, we can then shed our anxiety for our position and status in this world. Serving God by serving others relieves us from our concern for ourselves and allows us the freedom to truly provide for the needs of those around us with sincerity and love.


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.

Where the authority of the throne resides

Overcoming sin requires sacrifice.

Revelation 3:21 – “To the one who conquers I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.”

The Kingdom of God is all about authority, and this authority is captured in the imagery of a throne. A throne is the source of power and the residing place of one who wields that power.

When we read of kingdoms and thrones in the Bible, we tend to immediately think of them as literal thrones and literal, physical kingdoms that exist someplace and sometime. From a historical, earthly perspective, there are many kingdoms and thrones listed in the Bible that have to do with the physical nation of Israel and those surrounding nations and empires within which the Bible story is told. However, when it comes to the Kingdom of God, we move away from physical locations and enter in to a representation of authority; specifically, the authority of God within his Creation.

Since the beginning of the physical Creation, God has desired that mankind “rule” over his Creation.

Genesis 1:27-28 – “So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.”

Being created in the image of God, it is man’s role to represent Him in all things in this world, and to overcome and conquer all rebellious activity known as sin.

Genesis 4:6-7 – Then Yahweh said to Cain, “Why are you furious? And why do you look despondent? “If you do what is right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

This idea of ruling over sin only comes from having a sense of authority over it. The Bible makes it clear that no matter how much we understand “about” sin and doing what’s right (illustrated by the law provided through Moses) unless we demonstrate authority over it, we cannot conquer it; instead, it tends to conquer us. That is a picture of the human condition outside of the spiritual Kingdom of God.

However, when Yeshua arrived at the culmination of Israel’s history, he taught that the Kingdom of God was the very thing that believers should pursue at all costs, and in doing so, they would be fulfilling the very will of God.

Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.”
Matthew 7:21 – “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”

Since the time of Yeshua, those who are believers in Messiah (as the fulfillment of all that God had promised to Israel) have been tasked with carrying the light of God’s word and authority to the world. We are not born into a physical kingdom, but must be born again or born from above to recognize and experience the authority of this Kingdom. Yeshua taught that the key to overcoming this tendency to sin is to die to oneself and one’s own selfish desires and live instead for God, serving others in his authority, not in our own.

Those who conquer sin can only do so through the authority, the throne, of the Kingdom. The caveat is that the throne of that Kingdom is not in a stately palace with precious metals and gems, it is instead an altar of sacrifice, where we lay down our lives for the will of God.

Romans 12:1 – “Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.”

Yeshua set the example for us and will be recognized for all eternity for this demonstration of abiding within the will of God through sacrifice.

Revelation 5:5-6 – Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Look, the Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered so that he is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw one like a slaughtered lamb standing in the midst of the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders….”

This is why he has the authority of the throne and the ability to overcome; and he urges believers to do the same, to rule and reign with him through sacrificially living for the will of God for all time.


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.

Believers are not just the light of the city on a hill, but also the salt of the earth

Right doctrine should result in compassionate actions.

Matthew 5:13-14 – “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden.”

Because these two metaphors of Yeshua appear back to back in this passage in Matthew, most traditional commentators will apply a similar, combined meaning to both. An excerpt from Matthew Henry below will illustrate this point:

“Mankind, lying in ignorance and wickedness, were as a vast heap, ready to putrify; but Christ sent forth his disciples, by their lives and doctrines to season it with knowledge and grace. If they are not such as they should be, they are as salt that has lost its savour. If a man can take up the profession of Christ, and yet remain graceless, no other doctrine, no other means, can make him profitable. Our light must shine, by doing such good works as men may see. What is between God and our souls, must be kept to ourselves; but that which is of itself open to the sight of men, we must study to make suitable to our profession, and praiseworthy. We must aim at the glory of God.”

What I like about this quote is how Matthew Henry captures the idea that salt and light have to do with both the believers’ “lives and doctrines.” What is believed as doctrine should naturally pave the way for actions in life that support those beliefs.

The way I view this passage is in a similar way, with light standing for doctrine and salt standing for the physical things we do in interacting with the world around us. To me, this distinction is provided by the metaphors themselves.

For example, the light of the city on a hill simply radiates into the darkness, and can be seen even from a distance with no direct interaction with anyone; it just shines. To my way of thinking, this stands for believers being examples of righteousness based on the truth of what they believe. When doctrine is rightly aligned, the individual’s personal actions and habits are also aligned with the truth, and these can become a shining example to all those who see it.

By contrast, salt can only affect its purpose when it comes in physical contact with that which it is designed to preserve or cleanse as an antiseptic. In this sense, I view the “saltiness” of believers as those physical acts of compassion that are conducted in the process of reaching out to, as Matthew Henry puts it, the putrefaction of “ignorance and wickedness” among men. Believers must have a right doctrine, yes, but also right actions of compassion among non-believers. Otherwise, anytime someone believed in Messiah, they would simply be instantly transported into God’s presence. No, the reason we remain on this earth after the new spiritual birth is to be the light to the rest of the world with right doctrine, and to be the salt of purification to the world that is in many ways is considered rotting in its own ignorance and wickedness.

This purification involves believers being compassionately involved in providing real, tangible help to those who need it. If we are correct in our doctrine but it doesn’t spur us on to purifying actions in the world around us, then what good is that doctrine? Yeshua puts it this way:

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

If we are not exhibiting the salt of compassionate actions towards those around us, then our light becomes nothing more than an unattainable beacon of hypocrisy to a world that can only be preserved with our participation in helping to meet their physical needs. Instead, as our compassionate interaction with the world around us is recognized for its genuine intent, then the light of the true doctrine of the kingdom that we hold becomes brighter and more visible, allowing more individuals to be drawn to the truth of that light.

Don’t just be the light, remember to actively be the salt, too.


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! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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True compassion is not hypocritical

Our lives of faith should be based on genuine care and concern for others to meet their needs.

Matthew 6:2 – When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do–blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get.

We live in an age where everything we do gets posted online, from the clothes we wear to the food we eat, our family moments, and where we spend our vacations. We have become so accustomed to “sharing” everything we do, that sometimes even our good acts of helping others get brought into the limelight of social media, as well.

Yeshua is very particular about ensuring that if we are helping others, we are doing so from a genuine concern for their welfare, not for the opportunity to appear to others as being generous. He states this privacy in an unusual way, saying that the left hand shouldn’t even know what the right hand is doing. This is a hyperbolic way of stating how the privacy of our acts of charity to others should be viewed.

When we do things for others expecting to get rewarded for it in some way, whether from our social group or from God, then the act loses its honest intent. Suddenly we are simply doing things for our own benefit, and not truly for the benefit of others. At its root, this is hypocrisy.

Yeshua had no kind words to say about hypocrisy:

Matthew 6:5 – “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.
Matthew 6:16 – “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.
Matthew 23:23 – “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law–justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.

The apostle Peter, following his Messiah’s lead, includes hypocrisy in a list of evil behaviors that believers should be done with.

1 Peter 2:1 – So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech.

Our lives of faith should be based on genuine care and concern for others to meet their needs, not out of a selfish desire to appear righteous to others. Be sure to always check motives when you are in a position to help someone else, and that you are doing so out of a sincere desire to love and help them in their distress, not to benefit yourself.


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! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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

Bringing to life our highest purpose

We will not grow fruit for God if we are not performing the purpose for which we have been created in him.

1 John 3:16-18 – This is how we have come to know love: He laid down his life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has this world’s goods and sees a fellow believer in need but withholds compassion from him ​– ​how does God’s love reside in him? Little children, let us not love in word or speech, but in action and in truth.

Messiah’s example should motivate us to think about and act on the needs of individuals in our community. The highest gift one can give to another is to lay down one’s life, symbolically or literally. This is the life-principle we are called to as followers of Messiah, and this is the example we should set for everyone around us. When we aid people in need at the sacrifice of our own comfort and resources, we are laying down our life, i.e., putting our own selfish needs aside to meet the needs of others. This is the essence of Yeshua’s appeal for compassion and kindness from his disciples.

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

When we are obedient in this fashion, we open ourselves up to the same mercy to be shown to us by God and others.

Acts 9:36-41 – In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which is translated Dorcas). She was always doing good works and acts of charity. About that time she became sick and died. After washing her, they placed her in a room upstairs. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples heard that Peter was there and sent two men to him who urged him, “Don’t delay in coming with us.” Peter got up and went with them. When he arrived, they led him to the room upstairs. And all the widows approached him, weeping and showing him the robes and clothes that Dorcas had made while she was with them. Peter sent them all out of the room. He knelt down, prayed, and turning toward the body said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up. He gave her his hand and helped her stand up. He called the saints and widows and presented her alive.

When this woman died, she was recognized for her deeds of kindness, producing and distributing clothing to those in need. Mercy was shown to her because of her merciful actions towards others.

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

The aim of salt, according to Yeshua’s metaphor, is to fulfill a purpose; otherwise, it would be thrown aside as useless. We will not grow fruit for God if we are not performing the purpose for which we have been created in him, and we risk being thrown aside as idle vessels while he seeks others to work through.

We should not only declare that we believe in Messiah; instead, we should follow his example of laying down his life to aid others with whatever skills and abilities God has bestowed upon us.

1 John 3:18 – Little children, let us not love in word or speech, but in action and in truth.


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.

Personal and private righteous actions for the sake of others

This is the authentic way that people receive the real help they need.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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