The requirement of blessing the haters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at

The simple mindset that brings light

Believers have been set apart to witness to the truth of God in this world.

Believers have been set apart to witness to the truth of God in this world.

Luke 11:34-35: “The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore when your eye is good, your whole body is also full of light; but when it is evil, your body also is full of darkness. Therefore see whether the light that is in you isn’t darkness. “

One of the strengths of the Hebraic worldview is that it always paints things in the light of contrast: good and evil, light and dark, life and death. It’s this contrast that allows for the mind to distinguish between right and wrong, and that which is holy and that which is unclean or wicked.

In this passage speaking of light and darkness, Yeshua is carrying on a tradition of demonstrating how righteousness is light, and unrighteousness is darkness.

Proverbs 4:18-19: “But the path of the righteous is like the dawning light, that shines more and more until the perfect day. The way of the wicked is like darkness. They don’t know what they stumble over.”

In the Bible, light is associated with wisdom and understanding, and darkness is related to wickedness, pride, and selfishness.

  • Psalm 119:105: “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light for my path.”
  • Isaiah 5:20-21: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!”

So, the imagery that Yeshua is using as he speaks of the lamp of the eye is not a new or novel concept to his hearers. This type of thinking is how the Hebrew world is codified. Yeshua is speaking to the singleness of purpose that should be the guiding principle of all believers: to love Yahweh our God with all our heart soul and strength.

Mark 12:29-30 – Yeshua answered, “The most important of all the commands is: Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

That single principle provides the basis and foundation of all that sets believers apart from the rest of the world. It is not only the underlying principle of personal belief, but it is the very cornerstone of the kingdom of God. This is what makes us holy: when we can operate from the strength of this simple mindset of loving God with all that we are. All else comes into focus and clarifies the muddy waters of compromise with this world system.

Luke 11:36: “If therefore your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly full of light, as when the lamp with its bright shining gives you light.”

More than providing light only for ourselves, this singleness of purpose will also allow our righteous actions to be a light to others, that they may see the light through us.

Luke 11:33: “No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, that those who come in may see the light.”

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

Sowing, weeding, and doing good

A fruitful harvest is the result of vigilance.

Core of the Bible podcast #53 – Sowing, weeding, and doing good

Today we will be exploring the topic of vigilance and how the act of maintaining the purity of our heart and our actions requires constant vigilance and continual grooming.

Mark 4:18-19, Amplified Bible – And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, but the worries and cares of the world [the distractions of this age with its worldly pleasures], and the deceitfulness [and the false security or glamour] of wealth [or fame], and the passionate desires for all the other things creep in and choke out the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

In this parable of the sower sowing his seed, Yeshua explains that the seed represents the word of God, and he describes the conditions of the hearts of those upon whom the seed is sown.

The seed being sown among the thorns represents those individuals who receive the word of God, but their hearts are so overcrowded with worldly cares and other ambitions that the seed cannot grow to maturity; it gets choked out and cannot bear fruit.

If we are to reflect on our own lives, how much of our time and attention is spent on the thorny distractions of this age, the deceitfulness of wealth, and passionate desires for other things besides the kingdom? We need to remain vigilant that the weeds and thorns of these other concerns do not overcrowd the truly important and impactful things that surround the kingdom: hearing and understanding the word and bearing fruit.

This process of God sowing his Word in the hearts of believers is commonly misunderstood to be a one-time event. It is believed that once God’s seed is sown that work is done and the seed will either grow or not depending on the condition of the soil. However, this parable of Yeshua along with other scriptural insights teach us that if we receive the Word gladly, it is up to us to continue to sow that good seed for the harvests to grow beyond that which was just sown initially.

For a farmer to have a continual harvest throughout the year, they must be continually preparing soil and sowing the appropriate seed at the appropriate season. Even in ancient Israel there were multiple harvests throughout the year depending on the crop. First was the barley harvest which occurred at the Feast of First-fruits during the week of Unleavened Bread in the spring.  Then came the first of the wheat harvest which took place at Shavuot or Pentecost at the beginning of summer. Finally, the richest and fullest harvest of the other crops took place at the Feast of Ingathering or Tabernacles in the autumn. Immediately after the autumn Feast of Ingathering, the work of re-plowing the fields and planting for the Spring harvest would begin. Each of these seasons indicates a different harvest for a different crop, but for that to be taking place there must constantly be new seed being sown.

Just like farmers preparing the soil in their gardens, we need to constantly churn the earth of our hearts, ensuring there is sufficient compost and nutrients to receive what is planted so the seed can successfully multiply and grow to its fullest capacity.

Galatians 6:7-8 – Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a person sows he will also reap, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap destruction from the flesh, but the one who sows to the spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.

Sowing to the spirit means that there are choices that need to be made each day. I think it’s pretty evident how we sow to the flesh, but sowing to the spirit is all about receiving continual seed throughout each day so that we can remain focused on the kingdom and conduct our lives with integrity according to the Word of God. For us to be able to do so, then we must have a continual input of the Word throughout each day.

Consider how much time you may be spending on social media, or watching television, or being involved in worldly aspirations. In reality, none of these things are wrong in and of themselves, but they can easily become time-sucks that draw our full attention away from living in according to God’s Word. In fact, a good indicator that one of these things may be a negative activity for you would be that if you are engaged in it and lose all sense of time until you snap out of that engagement, you may be getting pulled further into the weeds that can choke out the Word.

If these are your primary interactions with others within the context of your world then you may be suffering from a lack of good and and nutritious input for your spiritual life. The digital age we live in provides us many alternatives to be in the Word throughout each day. Besides just Bible podcasts like this one, there are more significant Bible apps and audio Bibles that can help keep you in the actual Word without having to be sitting and reading or studying.

Think of how much time you might spend driving throughout the day, or exercising, or doing redundant chores around the house that don’t require a lot of concentration: things like ironing, or cleaning, or mowing the lawn. I regard these types of activities as “idling” activities, where you may be physically active but your brain is kind of sitting in an idle mode. Instead of popping on the TV or listening to the news, or scrolling through random videos, why not instead listen to an audio Bible on your device while you are doing these types of things? There are lots of free options out there with various narrators and versions of the Bible to choose from.

Perhaps you have some good, doctrinally-sound worship music that can help keep your mind focused on God and his gracious mercy towards us. Using those times to their fullest helps to keep your spirit engaged with God. I have found it becomes much easier to receive personal and private direction for challenges I may be facing when I am interacting with the Word in these various ways.

Another indication that may demonstrate getting choked among the weeds is to consider if you are primarily a consumer or a creator of digital media. As believers and image-bearers of God in this world, we have the ability to use and create informative engagements with the things and people of this world for God’s glory and the furtherance of the kingdom. Social media can help spread God’s Word through written articles and photos, and videos can be created to explain how the Bible has relevance for people today.

As a personal example, one of my goals with is to continue to build a multi-tiered approach to sharing the information in these articles in different platforms: through written articles, weekly audio podcasts, and also through videos. However, through all of this, I am having to be very selective with how I approach each of these areas, as it is dangerously easy to become consumed with editing and posting and monitoring multiple platforms in an effort to maintain effective engagement. I don’t want to get lost in the weeds of the process to where I am losing effectiveness in the content. I am just trying to keep things as simple and to-the-point as possible to maximize the value to each reader, listener, or watcher of the content.

When we consider all of the various ways we receive information input throughout each day, we need to be intentional and purposeful with the time we have so that we can maximize our spiritual growth.

Proverbs 4:23 – Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it is the source of life.

In a metaphorical manner of speaking, King Solomon as the writer of Proverbs indicates that our heart or our inmost self-awareness is the source of the quality of our life. That source is sometimes compared to a well of water.

This type of metaphor would be readily received and understood in ancient times, since life in a desert or wilderness environment is not possible without water. The quality of that water depends on how we maintain that well; is it overgrown with poisonous weeds, is it unprotected from animals that can trudge through and muddy its waters or destroy its flow? Is our heart becoming defiled through the things on which we constantly focus?

Yeshua even takes this metaphor further by saying whatever is in our heart is what spills out of our mouths:

Mark 7:20-23 – And [Yeshua] said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

Guarding our heart, then seems to be a concern that we should not take lightly, and should prompt us to take the appropriate time to strategize how to maintain the soil our our hearts at all costs.

In our American culture at least we seem have lost a sense of just how impactful the constant bombardment of worldly information flow can be to our lives, and it seems we are even becoming addicted to always having a music playlist going or having the television on in the background. As believers, we need to ensure that the well of our heart is filled with pure and nutritious water, not the potentially poisonous and unprotected muddy water of the world. It is our individual responsibility to guard our hearts; that means to protect what we allow to influence our hearts, because whatever is in there is what will ultimately come out through our speech and our actions. It’s like the old saying, “garbage in, garbage out.” Why not instead turn that saying on its head by changing it to “purity and goodness in, purity and goodness out.”

Even saying such a thing has Pollyana-ish overtones and seems awkward and simplistic. But is it really, or is that just our natural inclination has already become so jaded that we find it difficult to identify with what is good and right about human nature and living according to the positive and kind admonitions of God’s standards?

You know an interesting bit of Bible trivia relating to textual interpretation centers on a specific New Testament verse that has had a defining impact on believers over the last two millennia. And it has to do with the name “Christian.” For some context, allow me to read a passage out of Peter’s first epistle.

1 Peter 3:8-16 – Finally, all of you be like-minded and sympathetic, love one another, and be compassionate and humble, not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you may inherit a blessing. For the one who wants to love life and to see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit, and let him turn away from evil and do what is good. Let him seek peace and pursue it, because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do what is evil. Who then will harm you if you are devoted to what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be intimidated, but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. Yet do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that when you are accused, those who disparage your good conduct in Christ will be put to shame.

So we can see contextually that Peter is encouraging the believers to have good conduct at all times because this honors God. Now the passage with the textual consideration I mentioned previously is actually in chapter four; I’m going to read it in the YLT because even though it’s awkwardly phrased, it still brings out more of the clarity of the point I’m about to make.

1 Peter 4:15-16 – for let none of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evil-doer, or as an inspector into other men’s matters; and if as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; and let him glorify God in this respect;

Let’s look at some interesting commentary on this idea of suffering as a Christian.

Ellicott’s Commentary

(16) Yet if any man suffer as a Christian.—St. Peter purposely uses the name which was a name of derision among the heathens. It is not, as yet, one by which the believers would usually describe themselves. It only occurs twice besides in the New Testament—in Acts 11:26, where we are told of the invention of the nickname (see Note there), and in Acts 26:28, where Agrippa catches it up with the insolent scorn with which a brutal justice would have used the word “Methodist” a century ago. So contemptible was the name that, as M. Renan says (p. 37), “Well-bred people avoided pronouncing the name, or, when forced to do so, made a kind of apology.” Tacitus, for instance, says: “Those who were vulgarly known by the name of Christians.” In fact, it is quite an open question whether we ought not here (as well as in the two places of Acts above cited) to read the nickname in its barbarous form: Chrestian. The Sinaitic manuscript has that form, and the Vatican has the form Chreistian; and it is much harder to suppose that a scribe who commonly called himself a Christian would intentionally alter it into this strange form than to suppose that one who did not understand the irony of saying a Chrestian should have written the word with which he was so familiar.”

Cambridge Bible Commentary

  1. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian] The occurrence of a name which has played so prominent a part in the history of mankind requires a few words of notice. It did not originate with the followers of Christ themselves. They spoke of themselves as the “brethren” (Acts 14:2; Acts 15:1; Acts 15:3; Acts 15:22, &c.), as “the saints,” i.e. the holy or consecrated people (Matthew 27:52; Acts 9:13; Acts 9:32; Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 6:1; Ephesians 1:1, &c.), as “those of the way,” i.e. those who took their own way, the way which they believed would lead them to eternal life (Acts 9:2; Acts 19:9; Acts 24:22). By their Jewish opponents they were commonly stigmatized as “the Nazarenes” (Acts 24:5), the followers of Jesus of Nazareth, the city out of which no good thing could come (John 1:46). The new name was given first at Antioch (Acts 11:26), shortly after the admission there, on a wider scale than elsewhere, of Gentile converts. Its Latin form, analogous to that of Pompeiani, Mariani, for the followers of Pompeius or Marius, indicated that the new society was attracting the attention of official persons and others at Antioch. The word naturally found acceptance. It expressed a fact, it was not offensive, and it might be used by those who, like Agrippa, though they were not believers themselves, wished to speak respectfully of those who were (Acts 26:28). Soon it came to be claimed by those believers. The question, Are you a Christian? became the crucial test of their faith. By disowning it, as in the case of the mildly repressive measures taken in these very regions by Pliny in the reign of Trajan, they might purchase safety (Pliny, Epp. x. 96). The words now before us probably did much to stamp it on the history of the Church. Men dared not disown it. They came to exult in it. Somewhat later on they came to find in it, with a pardonable play upon words, a new significance. The term Christiani (= followers of Christ) was commonly pronounced Chrestiani, and that, they urged, shewed that they were followers of Chrestus, i.e. of the good and gentle one. Their very name, they urged, through their Apologist, Tertullian (Apol. i. 3), was a witness to the falsehood of the charges brought against them.

F.F. Bruce, in his commentary on Acts adds the following:

“Xrestus (“useful, kindly”) was a common slave-name in the Graeco-Roman world. It “appears as a spelling variant for the unfamiliar Christus (Xristos). (In Greek the two words were pronounced alike.)” (F. F. Bruce, The Books of Acts, 368).

So, just for a little mental hypothesis, what if, in the great span of history, believers were being chastised and ridiculed early on, not for being “Christians” or followers of Christ (since people unfamiliar with the scriptures would not know what a “Christ” was) but instead were being ridiculed for being “Chrestians” or “do-gooders”? Non-believers could certainly identify those individuals, and believers faithful to their calling could definitely be accused of that, since they were instructed to follow the “good-doing” of their Lord and Master:

Acts 10:38 – “how God anointed Yeshua of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how he went about doing good and healing all who were under the tyranny of the devil, because God was with him.

Galatians 6:9 – Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.

2 Thessalonians 3:13 – But as for you, brothers and sisters, do not grow weary in doing good.

1 Peter 2:15 – For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good.

1 Peter 3:17 – For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.

Of course I would not be dogmatic about this name identification, but it does raise an interesting concept and emphasis that may be lost in our modern understanding of that word. Christian implies that one believes a certain thing, while Chrestian implies that one does certain things. Which one would have been more derogatory? The word Chrestian would have, and indeed did, identify the early believers as do-gooders based on the fact that their Messiah was always doing good.

So what does all this side-bar about the Christian name have to do with the influence of our hearts? Well getting back to our main focus, this would mean that the content of the heart would have to have good intentions implanted there, and that believers would have to be acting out that goodness based on the overflow of their hearts, as Yeshua taught.

You see, without constant attention, the garden soil of our hearts can be quickly overrun by weeds. And when it’s overrun by weeds, it will become unfruitful; we cannot do the good things that we are called to do. It’s not about what we believe, but what we do.

We must weed the garden at all times to ensure that as the seed grows, it is clear of any other obstructions to the light and moisture that it needs. The weeds can block the light and consume the water of the rain and irrigation meant to nourish the seed for maximum growth. Removing weeds can be hard work, especially if we have neglected to review it on a regular basis.

It’s always good to remember that we need to mind the gardens of our hearts with vigilance. When we do so, we will be honoring the Master Gardener by maximizing the return he has planned for the seed that is continually being sown 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

Vigilance in self-monitoring our righteous behavior

Our heart is the strength of our walk.

The proverbs of Solomon carry so much practical and helpful information, I find it is extremely fruitful to glean its depths for ongoing inspiration and godly motivation. My personal practice is to continually review its content each month. Since there are thirty one chapters, it’s easy to review a chapter a day, doubling up as needed on months with less than thirty one days.

In our ongoing topic of vigilance and watchfulness in righteous actions, this passage toward the end of the fourth chapter (Proverbs 4:24-27) provides some helpful admonitions to ensure we are staying on the right path.

“Don’t let your mouth speak dishonestly, and don’t let your lips talk deviously.”

This wise advice from Solomon is easily nested as a further description of the ninth commandment, to not bear false witness against anyone. We should always be ensuring that our speech remains truthful and honest at all times.

“Let your eyes look forward; fix your gaze straight ahead.”

When we are distracted from our main focus, it is easy to get led astray. Instead, as we keep our eyes on the goal before us, we will be much less likely to deviate from the purpose that God has called us to.

Philippians 3:12-14 – “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Messiah Yeshua first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Messiah Yeshua, is calling us.”

“Carefully consider the path for your feet, and all your ways will be established.”

Many times, where we run into problems in our walk is that we move forward impulsively without due consideration or prayer ahead of time. In those times we can find ourselves quickly removed from the path that God has called us. Better to take our time and carefully consider our options and responses ahead of time. Doing so provides the confidence that we are continually moving in the right direction in the way God has established.

“Don’t turn to the right or to the left; keep your feet away from evil.”

Similar to the admonition to keep our gaze fixed straight ahead is the further prompting to ensure our actual progress stays on track, even if we may be temporarily distracted in our focus. Whatever may gain our immediate attention “off-path,” we should be sure our steps remain “on-path,” and to not mindlessly drift toward evil actions.

Overall, each of these actions requires a sense of vigilance and discipline regarding the monitoring of our own behaviors. At the beginning of the passage, Solomon provides a specific key that helps us maintain this sense of vigilance.

Proverbs 4:20-21 – “My son, pay attention to my words; listen closely to my sayings. Don’t lose sight of them; keep them within your heart.”

Just as Solomon encouraged his son to follow his wisdom, we can do so with the wisdom of our Father if we also don’t lose sight of his instruction, his torah, by keeping it within our heart. This is, after all, the goal and fulfillment of the New Covenant.

Jeremiah 31:33 – “Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days” ​– Yahweh’s declaration. “I will put my teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

God’s people are those who have his teaching, his torah, within their hearts. This is how we are enabled to remain on the path he has laid out for us, when we are vigilant in guarding that which he has graciously provided. Only then can his purpose be established in each generation.

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