Faithfully representing the compassion of the Father

The children of God should act like their Father.

Matthew 5:48 – Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Yeshua’s admonition to his disciples is to strive to be perfect, that is fully mature and needing nothing else to be complete, just as God is perfect.

The apostles Paul and James also taught and urged believers to be fully mature and complete in their faith.

Colossians 1:28 – We proclaim him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Messiah.
James 1:2-4 – Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.

If we are to be mature and complete, just as our heavenly Father is, then there may be some wisdom in learning his characteristics of this completeness so we can mimic these characteristics and strive to incorporate them in our lives, as well.

Psalm 145 carries many of these characteristics of God that can provide insight into his nature, and by extension, the types of things that we should be seeking to represent with all others.

Yahweh is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and great in faithful love.

Yahweh is good to everyone; his compassion rests on all he has made.

Yahweh is faithful in all his words and gracious in all his actions.

Yahweh helps all who fall; he raises up all who are oppressed.

All eyes look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time.

You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.

Yahweh is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all his acts.

Yahweh is near all who call out to him, all who call out to him with integrity. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry for help and saves them.

Yahweh guards all those who love him,

but he destroys all the wicked.

Psalm 145:8-9, 13-20

Reflecting on these characteristics of God, we can see that they revolve around compassion and mercy, helping those who are looking to him for help. He is always near to those who are sincerely seeking him, and he is a protector of the faithful. These are ideals that we can easily relate to, as they are centered around “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

However, this psalm also mentions how God is steadfastly firm with those who are “wicked, guilty, and criminal.” The destruction of the wicked is spoken of as a future event, implying that, should they remain in their guilty, criminal state, they will be destroyed. This ultimate destruction is alone the right of God to perform (because he is fully perfect and completely just) while we are only striving for this completeness. We are not qualified for the actual destruction of anyone.

Romans 12:18-19 – If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

Yet, as we grow in maturity and completeness, we have the duty to defend and stand up for what is right, and to destroy those ideals and concepts which are promoted by those who are wicked. This is also an act of compassion, as representing the truth to all provides a pathway for the rebellious to return to him.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 – For although we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh, since the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Messiah.

To be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect, then, is to extend compassion to all men, and yet to remain firm on godly principles, even while loving those who could be considered enemies. This is the role of the believer in this world: representing the characteristics of our heavenly Father by being compassionate and extending love, and the fullness of his truth, to all.


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.

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The integrity of knowing and doing God’s will

If we are to maintain our integrity in any given situation, then we should have the clarity of purpose and direction that God’s will provides.

The Hebrew word for integrity (tom, pronounced tome) has been discussed before as meaning simplicity or completeness. But one of the other variations for this word comes from the stones that were used by the high priest to determine God’s will in any situation.

Tom is a basis for the word thummim (pronounced too-meem) as in the “Urim and Thummim.” Thummim means perfections, and Urim (pronounced oo-reem) means lights. Therefore, in some versions of the Bible, instead of simply transliterating Urim and Thummim in the descriptions of the high priest’s breastplate, they will use the phrase “lights and perfections.”

Exodus 28:30 “Place the Urim and Thummim [lights and perfections] in the breastpiece for decisions, so that they will also be over Aaron’s heart whenever he comes before the LORD. Aaron will continually carry the means of decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the LORD.

Leviticus 8:8 Then he put the breastpiece on him and placed the Urim and Thummim [lights and perfections] into the breastpiece.

Numbers 27:21 “He will stand before the priest Eleazar who will consult the LORD for him with the decision of the Urim [lights]. He and all the Israelites with him, even the entire community, will go out and come back in at his command.”

Nehemiah 7:65 The governor ordered them not to eat the most holy things until there was a priest who could consult the Urim and Thummim [lights and perfections].

There has been much speculation as to how these stones worked, or what mechanism was involved in order to determine what God’s will was in any given situation. Some think the stones would be used kind of like holy dice. Others think that the stones lit up when a certain question was asked. However, regardless of the method, the result was that God’s will would be determined through the use of these stones. It was a simple method and it was complete in that the determination would be final.

What is interesting to me about the Hebrew language is that all the word meanings within a root group tend to blend together and overlap. The simplicity and completeness of integrity is also a means for determining God’s will, just as the stones were for the high priest. The continuity of Hebrew thought comes through the completeness of the root word tom culminating in the perfections of the word thummim. To be complete is to be perfected.

If we view integrity as being the simple choice in any given situation, we may find that we are operating within the ethics that God prefers. Understandably, the simple choice is not always the easy choice, but it is typically the clearest path to doing what’s right. If we are to maintain our integrity in any given situation, then we should have the clarity of purpose and direction that God’s will provides.

The Greek word telios (pronounced tell-ee-os) carries this concept into the New Testament writings. For something to be telios is to reach its fullness, maturity, or completion. This is why Yeshua could instruct his disciples to exhibit this most essential characteristic of their heavenly Father.

Matthew 5:48 “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The apostle Paul said that believers could determine God’s perfect will through being transformed by the renewing of their mind.

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

Whether in Hebrew or Greek, this clarity of purpose and understanding of God’s will is provided by the simplicity and completeness of integrity, just as the perfections of the stones did for the high priest.

For believers today, we don’t need physical stones to understand God’s will and act with integrity. God’s will is best determined by having a thorough understanding of his word and by allowing our minds to be renewed by God’s Spirit as to how to apply it in day to day actions. Therefore, it can be said that those who live lives of integrity are truly living their lives according to God’s word.


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

Guarded by integrity

Doing the right thing is usually doing the simplest thing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

It’s time to grow up and act our true spiritual age

We need to be responsible children of God who honor his name by doing the things he does, forgiving and loving as does.

But you must always act like your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:48

When reading Matthew 5 in almost any English version of the Bible, this verse reads something like: “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The word that is typically translated as perfect is the Greek word teleios which carries some of the following definitions:

  • (a) complete in all its parts, (b) full grown, of full age,
  • mature (consummated) from going through the necessary stages to reach the end-goal, i.e. developed into a consummating completion by fulfilling the necessary process
  • complete (in various applications of labor, growth, mental and moral character, etc.); completeness — of full age

But I like how the Christian Standard Bible quoted above states it: “you must always act like your Father in heaven.” While not a literal translation of the original text, I think it conveys the force of the intended meaning. Believers must always act like their Father in heaven.

The context of this saying is, of course, in the depths of the Sermon on the Mount, and Yeshua had just related that believers must love and forgive their enemies in the same way that the Father loves those who would be adversarial to him. This is the way we demonstrate we are his children: when we actually act like him.

Children carry the genetic and behavioral aspects of their parents into their worlds as they live and grow. If we are to be considered the children of God, then we should carry his genetic aspects (through being “born from above”) and his behavioral aspects (from learning his culture from his people through his Word) into our world. Since God is a god who loves, so should we. Since God is a god who forgives, so should we. Since God is a god who is fully complete and unchanging, we should be also.

This is the admonition of Yeshua here: that we should be complete, fully mature, demonstrating this spiritual maturity with those around us. We have all the tools we need, his Spirit and Word, to accomplish this.

The apostle Paul chastises the Corinthian believers for their lack of maturity.

Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in the Christian life. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world?

1 Corinthians 3:1-3

The writer of Hebrews also laments the immaturity of his audience.

There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen. You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.

Hebrews 5:11-14

“Solid food is for the mature,” the teleion, those who through constant use and training (like a gymnast) have their sense and judgment honed to know and do what’s right.

It’s past time for us to stop playing at spiritual things and to mature into truly living them out. We need to be responsible children of God who honor his name by doing the things he does, forgiving and loving as does.

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

How to improve our spiritual reflexes

Positive heart habits produce a life of integrity that honors God.

I can guarantee that unless you live a life that has God’s approval and do it more faithfully than the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:20

In Matthew 5, Yeshua encourages believers to exceed the righteousness of the religious leaders by being sincere and genuine. The hypocrisy of the leadership was evident in all of their public actions, and Yeshua was constantly confronting them on their hypocrisy.

But Yeshua always focused on his followers doing the right thing from the heart, not just following a set of rules. He said that what was in the heart would overflow into actions that reveal the true intent of the heart.

Good people do the good that is in them. But evil people do the evil that is in them. The things people say come from inside them.

Luke 6:45

This is a challenging principle, but one that also helps us gauge where we are in our spiritual journey. How?

By reviewing our reflexive interactions with others, we can see how “changed” our heart is. When we say the wrong things and then realize it later, we know that our immediate heart response, like a reflex, responds with what it’s full of. If it’s full of bitterness or frustration, it will lash out in anger. If it’s full of peacemaking and reconciliation, it will seek to reach out in love and sacrificial effort for the sake of another. By self-reviewing our conversations with others, we can get an idea of how positive or negative our spiritual reflexes may be.

This is why, when we become angry or frustrated, it is recommended we wait until we have a chance to “cool down” before providing a response to a particular situation. Then we allow the negative emotion to pass where we can think more clearly of an appropriate response. Likewise, if we have a caring or willing heart impulse to help someone who comes across our path, we shouldn’t stifle that feeling and allow the moment to pass without acting on it.

This is a challenging dynamic process that requires maturity to navigate. If we constantly fill our hearts with the bitterness and strife we may encounter in our families, work places and social media interactions, then we are sure to outwardly act on those heart responses. But, if we keep our hearts filled with the positive aspects of our spiritual heritage of finding ways we care for others, healing the hurts around us, and going above and beyond for those who are antagonistic towards us, we will be more likely to  respond reflexively, in the moment, in a way that honors God.

Some of the practical ways we can do this is through memorizing helpful Bible verses, having hymns or spiritual songs that are meaningful to us in our daily routine, and by choosing to privately and sincerely pray throughout the day for our own responses and to overcome the actions of others. These habits produce a life of integrity, a life that honors God, because it is a life of refusing to succumb to the culture around us, and to maintain a righteous attitude in the face of adversity.

When we can train our reflexes to operate in this way, we are then able to magnify God to those around us just as he intends us to.

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