Honoring God while enduring injustice

Our spiritual perspective in crisis guides our actions and reactions.

Our spiritual perspective in crisis guides our actions and reactions.

Yeshua taught that believers should be following the example of the Father by loving their enemies; that they should speak well of them, help them, and pray for their needs. They should never retaliate, but instead, offer to go above and beyond for those who would be oppressing them (Matthew 5:38-48).

One of the clearest examples of this type of godly perspective is exhibited in the life of Joseph. Sold into slavery by his own family, he could have resisted every aspect of his captivity as being unjust and fought tooth and nail to escape at any opportunity he had. And yet, we find quite the opposite taking place. He instead chose to go above and beyond for his captors, and Yahweh blessed his efforts every time.

Genesis 39:2-4 – “The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man; he was in the house of his Egyptian master. His master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hands. So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him; he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had.”

Even though the wife of his master Potiphar created a controversy that threw Joseph into further distress, it appears the Joseph took even that additional oppression in stride as he sought to continually go above and beyond for his new captor in the Egyptian prison.

Genesis 39:21-23 – “And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined; he remained there in prison. But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love; he gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer. The chief jailer committed to Joseph’s care all the prisoners who were in the prison, and whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. The chief jailer paid no heed to anything that was in Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.”

At every step of the way, Joseph could have struggled and fought against his captors, but we find that was not the case. It appears that throughout his experience he understood a deeper spiritual principle of serving God to the best of one’s ability no matter the circumstance. He appears to have had a forgiving attitude toward his captors, recognizing that they were just doing what they did because that was who they were. Yet, he was somehow able to remain in a mindset that honored Yahweh at all times.

We get a glimpse into his spiritual perspective that helped him through those dark times when, in his rise to power at the right hand of the Pharaoh, he confronts his estranged brothers with his true identity, and offers the ultimate form of forgiveness to them.

Genesis 45:4-8 “…He said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God…”

As believers, having and maintaining a perspective that God is ultimately in control of the main events of our lives as we submit to him provides a depth of release that should allow us to act in his best interest and to honor him in all we do. In those situations where we may feel oppressed, we can bring glory to his name by going above and beyond for our oppressors. It not only can soften the yoke we bear, but can be an opportunity for them to see the power of God working through us in situations where others would typically rebel or respond harshly.

Having a Joseph mindset can produce the fruit of the Spirit that include kindness, goodness and self-control in the midst of circumstances that may seem out of control. Recognizing that it is all under the control of the Almighty God can keep us centered and focused on honoring him by honorably serving others, even when (and especially when) our circumstances may appear unjust. It may just be that God is working a greater work that requires us to be placed in a position that may be uncomfortable for the moment but will ultimately result in his mercy and kindness being exhibited to others through our acceptance and honorable service through 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.

Reverence, humility, and helping others

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Holman CSB reads in a similar way:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notice what Job says:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul, in writing to the Philippian congregation, says:

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

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

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


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

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

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

The centrality of compassion

Yeshua was consistent in his emphasis of mercy towards others.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Loving actions spring from God’s forgiveness

God’s love should be the primary motivation for our love for others.

If you’ve been a reader of this journal for any length of time, you know that one of the key principles from the Sermon on the Mount revolves around the holiness, or set-apartness, of believers. Example after example is provided by Yeshua on what the religious hypocrites practice, and how he encourages his disciples to do the opposite, or to do something more meaningful. The disciples’ lives were to be pure and blameless with a righteousness that surpassed that of the Pharisees because of the sincerity of their hearts.

So it is little wonder that the religious elite also questioned Yeshua on his choice of company that he kept.

Luke 5:30-32 – But the Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

If he was truly a teacher of the Word of God and was supposed to be demonstrating his holiness, or set-apartness, then why was he constantly fraternizing with the very people who the Pharisees condemned as flagrant sinners?

The answer Yeshua gives provides an insight into his life and ministry that should prompt us with a similar response.

Matthew 9:12-13 – When Yeshua heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

I think the rendering in this version brings out the meaning of the passage beautifully. The Pharisees were guilty of self-righteousness; those who believed every thing they did was so set apart from wickedness that of course God would favor them. However, Yeshua says that God is really closest to those who “know they are sinners.” Those who know they have violated his standards, and want to do what is right because they know they have offended him.

By contrast, the Pharisees did righteous things because they thought it would make them look better in God’s eyes than the sinful actions of those around them. Therefore they did not demonstrate the love for God and others or seek his forgiveness as God desired them to because they felt they were already on the right path, and of course God would favor them.

This is why Yeshua could drive the point home when confronted by a Pharisee as to why he allowed a woman to pour perfume on him and wash his feet with her tears. Yeshua illustrates that her actions and her tears of repentance demonstrated that she realized she had done sinful things, and she wanted to do whatever she could in response to the depth of forgiveness that God offered her.

Luke 7:47 – “Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; that’s why she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little.”

Our love for God and others will be proportionate to the recognition of the forgiveness that we believe we have received. When we realize the depth of God’s love in overlooking our blatant and sinful actions, we should be driven ever closer to him, and our lives should be living demonstrations of that bountiful forgiveness toward others in like measure as we have received.


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.

The center strand of the core of the Bible

Yeshua demonstrated the simplest definition of what the Bible is all about.

Matthew 22:36-40 – “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest? ” He said to him, “Love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. “This is the greatest and most important command. “The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. “All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

Mark 12:28-31 – One of the scribes approached. When he heard them debating and saw that Yeshua answered them well, he asked him, “Which command is the most important of all? ” Yeshua answered, “The most important is Listen, O Israel! Yahweh our God, Yahweh is one. “Love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. “The second is, Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these.”

Luke 10:25-28 – Then an expert in the law stood up to test him, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? ” “What is written in the law? ” he asked him. “How do you read it? ” He answered, “Love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind;” and “your neighbor as yourself.” “You’ve answered correctly,” he told him. “Do this and you will live.”

It is within these very passages that Yeshua summed up the entire Bible in only two commands: Love Yahweh your God with all of your heart, strength, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. Even with this direct reference and simple clarity from Yeshua himself, why do we find this so hard to do?

I believe the biggest challenge lies in us: we need definitions. We need to have clarified for us how to love God, and what it means in practice to love our neighbor.

Loving God has been defined for us by the first five of the Ten Commandments: Put God first in all things, make no images that represent him, do not identify as his child in vain, honor the weekly Sabbath (as a memorial of God’s Creation), and honor your parents (as representative authorities of God). In the Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua also said it means seeking God’s kingdom first, vigilantly standing for what’s right, trusting God in all things.

Loving our neighbor has been defined for us in the second five of the Ten Commandments: do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, and don’t covet what belongs to others. Yeshua refined it further as living with integrity and holiness, forgiving others and being compassionate. He captured its essence as doing for others what we would want done for us.

Most significantly, loving God and loving others has been demonstrated most clearly for us by Yeshua himself, placing God’s will above even his own, giving his life willingly on behalf of others.

Through my writings, I am continually attempting to simplify the Bible message as much as possible, boiling it all down to the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount. But Yeshua has provided us the simplest summary of the entire Bible for all time: Love God and love others. And then he went and demonstrated it.

If we truly consider ourselves to be his followers, it’s up to us to also live out these directives in each of our lives, to be the examples for others to see. Like Yeshua, it’s up to us to provide the definitions, the living demonstrations, of how that type of love is lived out in practice.


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.

Hypocrisy is defiant and leads to unforgiveness

We can only forgive when we faithfully assess ourselves in light of God’s word.

Matthew 7:1-2 – “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. “For you will be judged by the same standard with which you judge others, and you will be measured by the same measure you use.”

Many times, this verse has been used to prevent anyone from being judged for anything they do. Even if the person is doing something that is incorrect by God’s standards, they claim this verse as a type of “home base” in a game of tag and say, “Remember, you can’t judge me because Yeshua said not to judge.”

However, the intent of this verse was not to eliminate all legitimate judgment, but to prevent hypocritical judgment when doing the same thing that one may be accusing another of doing. Most people stop at verse one and don’t include the conclusion of Yeshua’s thought in verse two.

The apostle Paul had the same perspective on hypocritical judgment.

Romans 2:1-3 – “Therefore, every one of you who judges is without excuse. For when you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things. We know that God’s judgment on those who do such things is based on the truth. Do you really think ​– ​anyone of you who judges those who do such things yet do the same ​– ​that you will escape God’s judgment?”

Hypocrisy is a critical factor in unforgiveness, because it is defiant and proud. Hypocrisy maintains one’s own integrity while chastising someone else for the same thing. In these situations, the hypocritical person cannot see past the “log” in their eye, yet tries to remove splinters out of another’s eye. Why is this?

When we are judgmental and hypocritical, we become so focused on looking for error in others that we begin to lose sight of our own performance. This is why we are encouraged to constantly evaluate ourselves in light of God’s word to ensure we haven’t gone off track in our own walk.

1 Timothy 4:7 – …train yourself in godliness.
1 Timothy 5:22 – …don’t share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.
2 Timothy 2:15 – Be diligent to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth.
Titus 2:7 – …Make yourself an example of good works with integrity and dignity in your teaching.
2 Corinthians 13:5 – Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves. …
James 1:21-22 – Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
1 Peter 2:1 – Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander.

All of these examples point to the same conclusion: we should have humility in our relations with each other based on our self evaluation according to God’s standards. Hypocrisy may be proud, but forgiveness is based on humility and allowing to be wronged for the sake of unity with others.

Philippians 2:3 – Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.
1 Peter 5:5-6 – … 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…

When we review our own lives in light of God’s word, we find we have little room to stand in condemnation of others. The good news is that the same forgiveness is available to all, and our humility with each other should be a uniting factor among all of 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.

What is “the faith” we are to contend for?

Characteristics that should be evident in the lives of believers.

Jude 1:3-4 – Dear friends, although I was eager to write you about the salvation we share, I found it necessary to write, appealing to you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all. For some people, who were designated for this judgment long ago, have come in by stealth; they are ungodly, turning the grace of our God into sensuality and denying Yeshua the Anointed One, our only Master and Lord.”

This passage has been well-known over the years as a rallying-point for believers to ensure they are holding fast to “the faith.” Jude clearly wanted to provide warning to those to whom he was writing about some ungodly people who had stealthily come among the true believers. They were those who rejected, denied, or contradicted the teaching of Yeshua, and were perverting the grace of God into brash and wantonly spiteful exhibitions of outrageous conduct, which he then goes on to describe in detail.

Jude is urging the “saints” or holy, set-apart ones to contend and struggle for the “commonly held” salvation, “the faith” that he says was entrusted or transmitted to them once. What is this “faith” or “salvation”? We should have a better understanding of it in order to know how to earnestly contend for it.

Well, we do know from the context of what it is not, as Jude describes in detail the sinful activities of those who had rejected the teaching of Yeshua. They were rebellious toward all authority, they bore no fruit, they were irreverent, living for themselves and whatever they could gain. They did not have the Spirit of God, and because of this they had no accurate spiritual discernment. Therefore, they distorted the truth of God into whatever suited their own desires, and yet mingled among the believers as if they were part of them, causing division.

From this summary we can review the opposites of these traits to see the aspects of those who hold the true faith. Those of the common faith accept and cling to the teaching of Yeshua. They willingly submit to all authority and demonstrate reverence toward God and others. They live for others, not themselves only, and bear much fruit for God. They possess the Spirit of God and pray earnestly, seeking to enhance their understanding to accurately discern the truth of God. They modify their behaviors based on the truth of God and seek the unity of God’s people and the love of God.

Jude encourages them further:

Jude 1:20-21 – But you, dear friends, as you build yourselves up in your most holy faith, praying in the holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting expectantly for the mercy of our Lord Yeshua, the Anointed One, for eternal life.

To build themselves up and to grow in the faith and to diligently struggle against those who were false is what Jude was urging these believers to do. In the same way, we should be equally passionate and committed to the truth of God, and to consistently and earnestly pray for guidance in being fruitful in accomplishing God’s will for us in this generation.


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.

Removing conflict through intentional love

Love is the basis of all forgiveness.

Proverbs 10:12 – Hatred stirs up conflicts, but love covers all offenses.

Most commentators think that the type of hatred mentioned in Proverbs 10:12 is the sense of vengeance that one might have toward an individual due to a blood feud, an unintentional death that required satisfaction. The cities of refuge in ancient Israel were designed for just such a reason, so that an individual could remain safe from vengeful relatives in the case of inadvertently causing an accidental death.

But this is not necessarily the case, as the Bible mentions others who are simply wicked individuals who are content to go around stirring up trouble.

Proverbs 6:12-14 – A worthless person, a wicked man goes around speaking dishonestly, winking his eyes, signaling with his feet, and gesturing with his fingers. He always plots evil with perversity in his heart; he stirs up trouble.

People like this tend to operate out of a capacity for hatred and distaste of righteousness. The passage says they are dishonest and always scheming some twisted or crooked plan to cause harm to others.

In contrast to this, the righteous believers are urged to demonstrate love, since love covers or conceals the unrighteous actions of others. This does not mean we should whitewash or sweep injustice out of the way, or refuse to hold people accountable for wrong actions. This verse means that we should not hold grudges for personal infractions or relational injustices that are so often the cause of individual or familial strife.

Love is the basis of all forgiveness. We tend to think of love as an emotion that comes and goes of its own free will, and if love stays in our hearts, then we remain loving toward others. However, biblical love is not like that at all. Biblical love is a choice that one makes, an intentional attitude that one demonstrates toward another, whether there are any deep emotional feelings present or not.

Proverbs 17:9 – Whoever conceals an offense promotes love, but whoever gossips about it separates friends.

Notice, this type of offense is between friends, and re-telling of these offenses and injustices simply fans the flames of contention. But the intentional concealing of a personal injustice can demonstrate to that individual that you are willing to extend trust to them by keeping their error hidden from others when you may have had an opportunity to expose them.

In his famous passage to the Corinthian congregation, the apostle Paul goes even further than the proverb by suggesting to believers that in order to demonstrate true love, they not only should conceal injustices but erase them completely.

1 Corinthians 13:5 – [Love]…does not keep a record of wrongs.

One of the secrets of being able to forgive others is to not keep a record of wrongs that have been done. When there is nothing to forgive, then it becomes easier to love emotionally rather than just obediently because we are supposed to. After all, this is the injunction for all believers as a basis for our community living within the Kingdom.

1 Peter 4:8 – Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins.


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.