Loving from the heart

True compassion for others begins with an all-consuming love for God.

True compassion for others begins with an all-consuming love for God.

Many believers are familiar with the prophecy of Micah if for no other reason than this famous verse about acting with compassion:

Micah 6:8: “He has shown you, O man, what is good. What does Yahweh require of you, but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

But Micah is only signifying what God had repeatedly told Israel over and over. Notice how Micah says, “He has shown you…” This is not something that God had done in a corner somewhere distant; no, God had repeatedly told them how he desired their hearts to be right and to demonstrate compassion with others in all things, providing this justice and mercy in tangible ways.

Through Isaiah, he warned them of the impending judgment for their failure to learn that lesson.

Isaiah 1:16-17: “Wash yourselves, make yourself clean. Put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes. Cease to do evil. Learn to do well. Seek justice. Relieve the oppressed. Judge the fatherless. Plead for the widow.””

Through Zechariah, he emphasized how there should be no evil in the heart, no falsity in the words out of the mouth in the carrying out of his commands.

  • Zechariah 7:9-10: ““Thus has Yahweh of Armies spoken, saying, Execute true judgment, and show kindness and compassion every man to his brother. Don’t oppress the widow, nor the fatherless, the foreigner, nor the poor; and let none of you devise evil against his brother in your heart.’”
  • Zechariah 8:16-17: “These are the things that you shall do: speak every man the truth with his neighbor. Execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates, and let none of you devise evil in your hearts against his neighbor, and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate,” says Yahweh.”

This repeated injunction of focusing on the heart is emphasized in the teaching of Yeshua and his disciples, as well.

Matthew 5:8 – “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Matthew 18:35 – “So also my heavenly Father will do to you unless every one of you forgives his brother or sister from your heart.”

Most importantly, Yeshua emphasized how the basis of the Kingdom of God, and the righteous actions of the heart, were rooted in a sincere, genuine, and complete love for Yahweh. This was the first and greatest commandment which would lead to the second most important commandment: to love others.

Matthew 22:37-39 – He said to him, “Love the Lord 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.”

The failure of the religious leaders to exemplify true and genuine compassion was also the condemnation Yeshua pronounced against them, using the same words of Isaiah:

Matthew 15:8 – “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”

These compassionate actions are at the very center of the message of the Bible, and the Yeshua’s words in the Sermon on the Mount simply clarify something that God had been saying all along: the goal of all of Torah, or God’s instruction, is loving one another genuinely from the heart, not out of religious obligation. This is the message he taught his disciples: that true love for God causes us to truly love others. This was the message that the disciples sought to distill to those under their care and direction, as well:

  • Romans 8:28 – “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God…”
  • 1 Corinthians 2:9 – “But as it is written, What no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart has conceived — God has prepared these things for those who love him.”
  • 1 Corinthians 16:14 – “Do everything in love.”
  • 1 Timothy 1:5: “but the goal of this command is love, out of a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith…”

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

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

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

Following the compassionate example of our Father

God continually exemplifies compassion for a people who are contrary to him.

God continually exemplifies compassion for a people who are contrary to him.

Zechariah 10:6 – I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph. I will bring them back because I have compassion on them, and they shall be as though I had not rejected them; for I am Yahweh their God and I will answer them.

When we speak about compassion with others, we will typically consider attributes like care, concern, and assistance for their well-being. These are not incorrect, and may come rather easily when we are emotionally moved with situations involving individuals who are struggling or who have fallen on hard times. However, when we look at the compassion that God has demonstrated on his people, we learn other aspects of compassion that we may not have considered.

In the case of this passage in Zechariah, Yahweh says he will have compassion on the houses of Judah and Joseph. He then explains through the prophet that this compassion will be exhibited through a demonstration of mercy; it will be as though he had not rejected them at all. In this, we can learn an aspect of compassion that we can practice in our own lives, as well.

If one of the aspects of biblical compassion is restoration of relationships, then we can see how this characteristic blends together with other characteristics that God desires of us, such as being peacemakers and forgiving those who have wronged us. The example of Yahweh with his people serves to illustrate time and again his undying compassion for his people, and it always results in him extending grace and mercy to those who have strayed from him.

  • Isaiah 54:7-8 – “I deserted you for a brief moment, but I will take you back with abundant compassion. “In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but I will have compassion on you with everlasting love,” says Yahweh your Redeemer.
  • Isaiah 65:2 – “I spread out my hands all day long to a rebellious people who walk in the path that is not good, following their own thoughts.
  • Jeremiah 30:18-19 – This is what Yahweh says: I will certainly restore the fortunes of Jacob’s tents and show compassion on his dwellings. Every city will be rebuilt on its mound; every citadel will stand on its proper site. Thanksgiving will come out of them, a sound of rejoicing. I will multiply them, and they will not decrease; I will honor them, and they will not be insignificant.
  • Micah 7:18-19 – Who is a God like you, forgiving iniquity and passing over rebellion for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not hold on to his anger forever because he delights in faithful love. He will again have compassion on us; he will vanquish our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

If the compassion of our God is demonstrated in his steadfast love for his people by overlooking their iniquity and their unfaithfulness, then our compassion for others should be exhibited in the similar fashion.

Matthew 5:44-45 – “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, “so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. For he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.


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.

Responsible mercy

Believers are rich in wisdom; generosity is required in our dealings with others.

Believers are rich in wisdom; generosity is required in our dealings with others.

Through the Proverbs and into the New Testament writings, the rich are chastised for oppression of the poor.

  • Prov 18:23: The poor plead for mercy, but the rich answer harshly.
  • Proverbs 22:16 – Oppressing the poor in order to enrich oneself, and giving to the rich, will lead only to loss.
  • Proverbs 28:6 – Better to be poor and walk in integrity than to be crooked in one’s ways even though rich.
  • Proverbs 22:7 The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.
  • James 2:6-7 – Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?
  • James 5:1-6 – Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you. Your riches have rotted, and your clothes are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days. Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous one, who does not resist you.

While these passages are based on real class issues that had arisen among God’s people, the central issue is not just that they were rich, but that they were crooked in their dealings, oppressing those who were below them in social status, being rough with those with whom they could have shown greater compassion.

As we have seen in many other lessons, mercy and forgiveness are closely associated throughout the Bible. One of the reasons this is so is because they both have to do with an offset of privilege; a power imbalance is in play. This is most evident between the rich and the poor because of simple economics, but it speaks to a spiritual power imbalance in any relationship.

The “rich” individual is the one who holds the primary rights in a situation between two people. This is the person who has the ability to control an outcome simply because of standing or evidence that backs their position. The “poor” person in the relationship lacks this gravitas and is essentially “at the mercy” of the more strongly-positioned individual. In this case, the “rich” person may have the ability to hurt the less-strongly positioned individual, and this is where mercy comes into play.

Rather than flaunt their right position, this individual can simply forgive the less-strongly positioned individual to end the matter. This is showing mercy: having the ability to exercise a power but refraining for the good of another, or for the continuation of a valuable relationship.

James speaks to this issue and drives home the accountability that the more strongly-positioned individual carries in the eyes of God.

James 2:13 – For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

James says that showing mercy is more important than always being right. This is the way we can view passages like this that speak to power imbalances and draw viable spiritual conclusions. We can also corroborate this type of teaching with the teaching of Yeshua in the Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 5:7: ” Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

Mercy and forgiveness are much more valued than a judgment that proves one’s position to be right. This honors the less-strongly positioned individuals and provides them an opportunity to realize the reality of their position. Perhaps in that light, they will repent of the wrongly held opinion or actions they are promoting.

As responsible believers seeking to honor God, we should always default to mercy and forgiveness due to the richness of the wisdom of God that has been provided to 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.

Ruling and teaching with integrity

It is the responsibility of God’s people to rule with the highest integrity.

It is the responsibility of God’s people to rule with the highest integrity.

Psalm 82:2-5: ““How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk around in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.”

When we review the denunciation of these leaders by Yahweh, we can gain some understanding about how he desires his people in roles of leadership to honor him.

For example, we can see that Yahweh desires fairness and justice without showing partiality to those who may benefit unequally from favored rulings. Additionally, those who are weak and in need typically require assistance in overcoming the oppression of the wicked.

What I find interesting also is the way that the stability of the society being described hinges on the measure of justice being provided. When there is no justice, it’s as if the foundations of the earth are shaken. The societal balance is undermined, and chaos then rules.

There are many different opinions about whom this psalm is speaking. Is it human judges, or heavenly rulers of some sort?

Psalm 82:1 – God stands in the divine assembly; he pronounces judgment among the gods:

The word that is translated as gods, depending on the context, can also mean mighty rulers. In that ancient society, it was not uncommon to view the rulers as being held to a higher standard. This is also where rulership of nations became intertwined with the worship of divine rulers. This would ultimately lead to world leaders being viewed as divine.

As far as this psalm is concerned and who this chastising is being directed to, I believe the answer can be found in the response of Yahweh to these individuals when he says:

Psalm 82:6-7: “I say, “You are gods, children of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, you shall die like mortals, and fall like any prince.”

To me this intimates that Yahweh was mocking their elevated status of themselves and reminding them that they were mortal and would die and be accountable for all of their actions and deeds.

To corroborate this view, Yeshua himself challenges the rulers and teachers of his day by quoting this very passage in denouncing their rejection of his authority.

John 10:34-36: “Jesus answered, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If those to whom the word of God came were called ‘gods’—and the scripture cannot be annulled— can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?”

Yeshua says that the ones “to whom the word of God came” were looked upon as “gods.” He leverages this passage as a way of substantiating his own rightful position as the Son of God, because he really was carrying the true Word of God. This type of logic would have been a crushing argument against those religious leaders and their thinking.

Regardless of how one views the subjects of this psalm, what remains are principles that can still be applied within the integrity of believers who have any measure of authority in this life. We can see how it is God’s view that it is the responsibility of believers to rule with the highest integrity and fairness so that they may represent the God whom they serve with honor and dignity. They must be mindful of their own mortality and recognize their duty to be fair in all of their conduct and teaching, as they will be even more accountable because of the weight of their responsibility.

James 3:1 – Not many should become teachers [that is, one who is fitted to teach, or thinks himself so], my brothers, because you know that we will receive a stricter judgment.


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.

Consistent compassion based on love for God

The heart of the Bible lies in the simplicity of its core message.

The heart of the Bible lies in the simplicity of its core message.

There are two great summaries in the Bible of the conduct that
God expects of mankind. To believers in Messiah, one of them comes to the surface of our thinking rather easily.

Matthew 22:35-40 – And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test him: “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.”

According to Yeshua, to love God and to love our neighbor is the summary of all of the Law and the Prophets. However, there is another summary in the Old Testament that was spoken to the nation of Israel during one of their most turbulent times in their history.

The second of the great summaries of conduct that God expects of people occurred just prior to the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C. A prophet by the name of Micah was tasked with lining out the sins of the nation as a witness against them of the impending judgment of God. The book of Micah is one long condemnation of their idolatrous and ungodly practices. Yet, even amidst the darkness of their actions, Micah provides a glimmer of insight: they ultimately knew the right thing to do but insisted on their own ways instead. He ironically presents their case as sarcastically asking, “What does God expect of us? Sacrifices of our animals or even the first born of our children?”

Micah 6:6-7 – What should I bring before Yahweh when I come to bow before God on high? Should I come before him with burnt offerings, with year-old calves? Would Yahweh be pleased with thousands of rams or with ten thousand streams of oil? Should I give my firstborn for my transgression, the offspring of my body for my own sin?

To this foolish complaint, the prophet Micah provides the bedrock of God’s just judgment:

Micah 6:8 – Mankind, he has told each of you what is good and what it is Yahweh requires of you: to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah then states what they already knew but were choosing to ignore. They were simply to perform true justice, to seek after merciful interactions with one another, and to be humble in their godly walk. Is this not saying the same thing as “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself?”

Micah could say that God had shown them what was good and what Yahweh expected of them, because he already had during the time of Moses.

  • Deuteronomy 6:5 – “Love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
  • Deuteronomy 10:12 – “And now, Israel, what does Yahweh your God ask of you except to fear Yahweh your God by walking in all his ways, to love him, and to worship Yahweh your God with all your heart and all your soul?
  • Leviticus 19:15 – “Do not act unjustly when deciding a case. Do not be partial to the poor or give preference to the rich; judge your neighbor fairly.
  • Deuteronomy 5:20-21 – “Do not give dishonest testimony against your neighbor. “Do not covet your neighbor’s wife or desire your neighbor’s house, his field, his male or female slave, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
  • Leviticus 19:18 – “Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am Yahweh.

When Yeshua stated the greatest commands, he was simply quoting Moses. This then, demonstrates how this simple principle of loving God and loving one’s neighbor is consistent throughout all of Torah: from Moses, to the Prophets, and into the New Testament with the teaching of Yeshua. This is the very basis, and the goal, of all biblical teaching.

If we are truly to love our neighbor, we must act in just ways, doing what is right by them according to God’s Word. We must also love them by demonstrating mercy when it is in our power to do so. And we must act in these ways with humility because of our respect and honor for God as we seek to walk in his ways.

1 John 4:7 – Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows 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.

Compassionate wisdom from above

Our primary example for how to live our lives is an example of unyielding compassion for others.

Our primary example for how to live our lives is an example of unyielding compassion for others.

James 3:13, 16-17 – Who among you is wise and understanding? By his good conduct he should show that his works are done in the gentleness that comes from wisdom. … For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, open to reason, full of compassion and good fruits, unwavering, without pretense.

To be full of the “wisdom from above” is to be compassionate towards others. From this compassion comes good actions that are sincere. Yeshua honored the practice of mercy or compassion by relating how a life of mercy towards others will result in mercy shown back towards that individual.

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

That good and kind works follows a heart of mercy and compassion is evidenced by the believer from Joppa named Tabitha.

Acts 9:36 – In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which is translated Dorcas). She was always doing good works and acts of charity.

She had been instrumental in working hard to make and provide clothing for others in need, and had earned the respect of her peers and her community. The narrative relates how she had become ill and died, but because of her mercy toward others, a great miracle was performed through Peter in raising her from death; mercy had been shown toward her and her little community.

Compassion by its very nature indicates that kind actions are being performed towards others. As believers, we are commanded to be loving and helpful toward those in need. But in the passage above, James warns of the dangerous negative results which are obtained when people are instead selfish and envious of others. These qualities are the direct opposite of compassion. James relates how the out-workings of this destructive mindset are “disorder and every evil practice.”

Only by seeking the wisdom from above can we overcome a covetous and self-serving attitude. This wisdom was most dramatically displayed in the life of Messiah Yeshua, who willingly yielded his own will to the will of God, and in the process exemplified the ultimate measure of compassion amidst the tumultuous backlash of both the religious and political systems of his day. If we truly claim to be his followers, it is our obligation to do likewise by having the same sacrificial mindset on behalf of others, even amidst the tumultuous generation of our own day. The wisdom of demonstrating compassion is always a personal sacrifice that is acceptable to God and will result in mercy being presented back toward those who practice it sincerely and with a pure heart.


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.

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.

The challenge of freely offering forgiveness

It involves giving others something they do not have, but desparately need.

Contrary to how much the word is used among congregations today, the word forgiveness appears in the Bible only a limited number of times. In the King James version, the frequency is as follows:

  • forgiveness occurs 56 times in 48 verses, 21 in the NT
  • forgiven occurs 42 times in 38 verses, 20 in the NT
  • forgiveness occurs 7 times in 7 verses, 6 in the NT
  • forgiving occurs 4 times in 4 verses, 2 in the NT

Overall, the concept of forgiveness in all of the forms above is mentioned just under fifty times in the NT. By comparison, the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost is mentioned over a hundred times in the NT, and love is represented 158 times in the NT.

There are several Hebrew and Greek words that are used to express this concept of forgiveness; however, I would like to focus one of the primary Greek words used in the NT for forgive, charizomai. In the Outline of Biblical Usage, the word is used in the following ways:

  • to do something pleasant or agreeable (to one), to do a favour to, gratify
  • to show one’s self gracious, kind, benevolent
  • to grant forgiveness, to pardon
  • to give graciously, give freely, bestow
  • to forgive
  • graciously to restore one to another
  • to preserve for one a person in peril

The Strong’s definition puts an even finer point on it by defining it this way:
to grant as a favor, i.e. gratuitously, in kindness, pardon or rescue:—deliver, (frankly) forgive, (freely) give, grant.

Looking at all of the various ways that this word is used, I get a sense that this concept involves a type of giving; giving of something to someone else that they don’t currently have. I like the Strong’s perspective of granting a favor or pardon. What this emphasizes to me is that the process of forgiveness involves a bestowal of favor, merited or not, upon another individual. In fact, the word is rooted in the Greek term charis, where we get the English word grace, generally meaning unmerited favor.

You see, to forgive someone is to unequivocally grant them something they are lacking: pardon for an offense. To be able to give this to someone else involves a letting go of any negative emotion that may be tied to that offense in order to give a genuine pardon freely and sincerely. There can be no strings attached, no conditions of forgiveness. They may continue to create offense in the same or different ways, but if we are sincere in our granting of forgiveness we must continue to do so.

Peter clarified this for us when he asked Yeshua about how many times we should bestow forgiveness upon another:

Matthew 18:21-22 – Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Yeshua said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

We may think that forgiving someone who has wronged us is a monumental thing in the eyes of God. It certainly is an indication that we are allowing God’s Spirit to work through us. However, if it is only the first of 490 times that we are commanded to forgive someone, then we still have a long way to go to meet God’s standards!

Obviously, the number of times we are commanded to forgive is hyperbole for the sake of emphasis, but doesn’t it adequately make the point that we should essentially be in a constant state of forgiving others? Especially in today’s digital age, there is no shortage of offense that is displayed between individuals. How much more we need to emphasize the lofty standard of forgiveness to those around us.

By doing so, our exhibition of this trait can spur others to notice with what difference we, as believers in Messiah, react to the situations we encounter. When those with whom you interact begin to realize that you are sincere in this level of granting favor, their lives can be positively impacted in tangible ways when they receive the forgiveness and pardon that can only be granted by you.

Don’t hold it over their heads; offer it freely.


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 pattern of God’s compassion for us to follow

Through sacrifice, God teaches mercy and compassion.

Matthew 9:11-13 – When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners? ” Now when he heard this, he said, “It is not those who are well who need a doctor, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

To those who would wonder why Yeshua was reaching out to those who were not considered worthy by the religious elite, Yeshua directs them to “go and learn what this means.” He then points them to a passage in the book of the prophet Hosea, which, when we read it in its context, helps us to understand what this emphasis is, and should be.

Hosea 6:4-6 – “O Ephraim, what shall I do with you? O Judah, what shall I do with you? For your wavering loyalty and kindness are transient like the morning cloud and like the dew that goes away early. Therefore, I have hewn them in pieces by the words of the prophets; I have slain them by the words of My mouth; My judgments pronounced upon them by the prophets are like the light that shines forth, obvious to all. For I desire and delight in steadfast mercy, rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings”

Hosea then goes on to describe the heinous sins of Israel that they have committed and the justification of God’s coming wrath upon them. They claimed that they were righteous because they were doing all of the religious rites (sacrifices and offerings) and yet God was still angry with them.

This points to the religious hypocrisy of that generation which Yeshua then deftly applies to the leaders of his generation. They claimed to be righteous and yet were as compassionless as the generation of judgment pronounced by Hosea.

Matthew 23:13, 15 – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you don’t go in, and you don’t allow those entering to go in. … “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to make one convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as fit for hell as you are!

Yeshua had no words to spare when it came to condemning the self-righteous hypocrisy of the religious leaders of his day. Rather than endless sacrifices, God truly desired that they would learn of his mercy through the sacrifices, that they would come to understand he was allowing them grace and mercy through substitutionary offerings. Instead, they only took away from that process a legal code of rules that God requires to be appeased, and in the process of doing so they neglected the very ones whom God desired they would mimic his mercy to: the outcasts of his people.

The God of the universe is a God of mercy, and he desires we simply exhibit compassion to all others, especially those who may seem unworthy by any other religious standard. Instead of sacrifice, mercy; instead of burnt offerings, knowledge of him.

1 Timothy 2:3-4 – This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Through the knowledge of God’s mercy available to all through the life and ministry of Yeshua, God has provided the compassionate pattern for us to follow with all others to whom we can minister in our generation. If there are sacrifices involved, it may be the sacrifice of our social status in order to reach out with compassion to those who need it most, because the knowledge of God brings life.

Micah 6:6-8 – What should I bring before Yahweh when I come to bow before God on high? Should I come before him with burnt offerings, with year-old calves? Would Yahweh be pleased with thousands of rams or with ten thousand streams of oil? Should I give my firstborn for my transgression, the offspring of my body for my own sin? Mankind, he has told each of you what is good and what it is Yahweh requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your 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.