The graciousness of our forgiving God

Our gracious actions towards others are a reflection of the graciousness which has been extended to us by God.

Our gracious actions towards others are a reflection of the graciousness which has been extended to us by God.

When Yeshua taught his disciples to be forgiving, it was not some new principle that they had never been aware of before. It was something that he emphasized was important for them to practice, since their Father in heaven practiced it. If they were to be considered his children, they should likewise exhibit his characteristics.

We would be hard pressed to find a more stark example of this forgiving nature of God than to review the life of one of the most notorious kings of Judah: Manasseh.

2 Chronicles 33:1-2, 9 – Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in Yahweh’s sight, imitating the detestable practices of the nations that Yahweh had dispossessed before the Israelites. … So Manasseh caused Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to stray so that they did worse evil than the nations Yahweh had destroyed before the Israelites.

Manasseh was so enamored with idolatry that the text says he caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit greater abominations than even the original Canaanites whom God had Israel conquer because of the horrific nature of their detestable practices. You may recall that when Moses was preparing the Israelites to take the land, he reminded them at that time why God was doing this.

Deuteronomy 9:4 – “When Yahweh your God drives them out before you, do not say to yourself, ‘Yahweh brought me in to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.’ Instead, Yahweh will drive out these nations before you because of their wickedness.

God had used Israel as a cleansing, purifying force to clean the land of the impurities of the wicked practices of the Canaanites. Here in the Chronicles, it is recorded that Manasseh was so idolatrous it was worse than the original idolatry that caused God to raise up the army of the Israelites in the first place. So, as it turns out, God had to resort to a similar strategy to once again demonstrate justice against a nation of rebellious idolaters.

2 Chronicles 33:10-13 – Yahweh spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they didn’t listen. So he brought against them the military commanders of the king of Assyria. They captured Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze shackles, and took him to Babylon. When he was in distress, he sought the favor of Yahweh his God and earnestly humbled himself before the God of his ancestors. He prayed to him, and Yahweh was receptive to his prayer. He granted his request and brought him back to Jerusalem, to his kingdom. So Manasseh came to know that Yahweh is God.

Even though Manasseh had become so depraved, he finally came to his senses, but only after God had raised up the Assyrians to come against them for their rebellious idolatry. But even so, it appears to have been a sincere repentance, and we know this because of the actions that Manasseh demonstrated after coming to truly realize that Yahweh is God when he was restored to Jerusalem.

2 Chronicles 33:15-16 – He removed the foreign gods and the idol from Yahweh’s temple, along with all the altars that he had built on the mountain of Yahweh’s temple and in Jerusalem, and he threw them outside the city. He built the altar of Yahweh and offered fellowship and thank offerings on it. Then he told Judah to serve Yahweh, the God of Israel.

There is great comfort in knowing that even in the depths of some of the most heinous idolatry, God honors those who repent and turn to him. Manasseh’s repentant spirit provided him the opportunity to make amends and to do his best in correcting the wrongs that he had committed. Not everyone gets that opportunity. Sometimes the people we have wronged have moved on or have died, and we have no physical way to reconcile with them. At other times our situation may have changed so dramatically that it we cannot correct the wrongs that have occurred.

But the example of Manasseh should teach us at least one most important principle: God is willing to forgive when we are sincerely repentant of the errors of our ways. It is then that we can learn obedience to do whatever we can to make amends to those who may have been hurt by us, but also to maintain a sense of forgiveness that we have received toward those who would seek the same from us. Experiencing this depth of true forgiveness from God allows us to extend that same type of forgiveness to others.


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 at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Helping those who cannot help themselves

This is how we become God’s workers and co-laborers in the building of the Kingdom.

Core of the Bible podcast #85 – Helping those who cannot help themselves

Today we will be looking at the topic of compassion, and how compassion is building bridges to others who are unable to get from where they are to where God wants them to be.

Luke 6:35-36 – …he is kind toward the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, even as your Father is also merciful.

In our English Bibles, sometimes verses that express compassion will mention mercy or kindness; sometimes compassion is equated with forgiveness. However it is expressed, we are commanded by Yeshua to be like God in regard to his mercy and compassion. What does that look like? Some examples taken from God’s dealings with ancient nation of Israel can provide us some indications of how God’s mercy and compassion is defined.

  • Ezekiel 16:5 – No eye pitied you, to do any of these things to you, to have compassion on you; but you were cast out in the open field, for that your person was abhorred, in the day that you were born.
  • Psalm 78:36-39 – But they flattered him with their mouth, and lied to him with their tongue. For their heart was not right with him, neither were they faithful in his covenant. But he, being compassionate, forgave iniquity, and didn’t destroy them. Yes, many times he turned his anger away, and didn’t stir up all his wrath. He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes away, and doesn’t come again.
  • Micah 7:18-19 – Who is a God like you, who pardons iniquity, and passes over the disobedience of the remnant of his heritage? He doesn’t retain his anger forever, because he delights in loving kindness. He will again have compassion on us. He will tread our iniquities under foot; and you will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
  • Jeremiah 12:15 – It shall happen, after that I have plucked them up [from their land due to their disobedience], I will return and have compassion on them; and I will bring them again, every man to his heritage, and every man to his land.

God’s compassion has been evident in choosing to take care of Israel as caring for an abandoned baby. His compassion is evident in forgiving them when they were consistently unthankful and disobedient to him. His compassion is evident in restoring Israel to the land he had promised them even after their captivity for disobedience.

If we are to be merciful and compassionate like our Father, we need to recognize that the examples he sets for us are teaching us that compassion is all about reaching out to and helping those who are unable to help themselves.

Yeshua exhibited this same type of compassion, just like his Father, helping those who could not help themselves.
He understood this principle and took it upon himself to teach and shepherd his people who were like lost sheep without a shepherd. In the words of the prophet Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 50:6 – My people were lost sheep; their shepherds led them astray, guiding them the wrong way in the mountains. They wandered from mountain to hill; they forgot their resting place.

Yeshua recognized that this was the condition of his people, which is why he so ardently strove to ensure they had a correct understanding of the Kingdom of God, not just the corrupted traditions of the religious elite.

  • Matthew 15:24 – [Yeshua] replied, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
  • Matthew 9:36 – When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were bewildered and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
  • Mark 6:34 – As Yeshua came ashore he saw the large crowd and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he taught them many things.

The text tells us that the act of teaching them “many things” was an act of compassion on his part. Perhaps these were the teachings of Luke 6, compared to the instruction of the Sermon on the Mount. If these were part of Yeshua’s regular teachings, it is not unlikely that they may have been conveyed at this time.

Additionally, he compassionately healed their sick.

Matthew 14:13-14 – Now when Yeshua heard this he went away from there privately in a boat to an isolated place. But when the crowd heard about it, they followed him on foot from the towns. As he got out he saw the large crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

Yeshua healing the sick was an act of compassion for their suffering, and also an indication that the Kingdom of God was present among them.

Luke 11:14, 20 – Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the man who had been mute began to speak, and the crowds were amazed. … But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has already overtaken you.

Yeshua’s compassion was an indicator that God’s Kingdom on the earth was becoming a reality, and that soon it would be a universal constant among all the nations.

Also, Yeshua demonstrated compassion on the crowd’s physical hunger in the remote place where he had been teaching.

Matthew 15:32 – Then Yeshua called the disciples and said, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have already been here with me three days and they have nothing to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry since they may faint on the way.”

He miraculously provided for them in a dramatic demonstration that God has the ability to provide for all physical needs.

Finally, and most importantly, in a representative fashion Yeshua took up the sins of the rebellious upon himself.

Romans 5:6-8 – For while we were still helpless, at the right time Messiah died for the ungodly. (For rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person perhaps someone might possibly dare to die.) But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Messiah died for us.

The text mentions the helplessness of those whom Messiah died for; there was nothing they could do to change their condition before a holy God. They are classified as ungodly and sinners. The word for helpless is literally strengthless, having no strength in and of themselves to overcome their ungodly and sinful ways. By all rights, these are individuals who are deserving only of the the wrath of God due to their defiance of his ways. Yet the example of Yeshua, by assuming the symbolic role of a sacrificial lamb for those who place their faith in him, assumes their place and identity before God. His death then becomes representative of the believer’s death for disobedience, and they are counted by God as released from their due penalty for breaking his laws and are allowed life.

John 15:12-13 – My commandment is this – to love one another just as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this – that one lays down his life for his friends.

Our compassion is to be based on this type of love and compassion that have been exhibited by Yahweh and Yeshua. It is a compassion that provides for the needs of others when they do not have the ability to help themselves, even at the expense of our own lives. But how are we to apply this same concept in our daily living? In a moment, we will begin to explore some application of these principles in the lives of believers today.


As stated previously, if we are to be merciful and compassionate like our Father or like Messiah Yeshua, we need to recognize that the examples that are set for us are teaching us that compassion is all about reaching out to and helping those who are unable to help themselves.

Zechariah 7:8-10 – Again the word of Yahweh came to Zechariah: “Yahweh who rules over all said, ‘Exercise true judgment and show brotherhood and compassion to each other. You must not oppress the widow, the orphan, the foreigner, or the poor, nor should anyone secretly plot evil against his fellow human being.’

Yahweh, speaking through the prophet Zechariah, instructed his people that demonstrating true justice is evident when they show brotherhood and compassion with each other. He lists helpless among them, like widows, orphans, the poor, and foreigners (all who were considered the lowest class of their society) were not to be oppressed in any way. There should never be any indication of plotting evil against others for selfish gain or personal agendas.

1 John 3:16-18 – By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet shuts off compassion against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Having the ability to share our worldly resources with those in need is certainly one of the most recognizable ways we can demonstrate compassion with others. In this passage, the apostle John equates this kind of compassion with love: the same type of love that Yeshua demonstrated with us.

Yeshua himself taught that no matter who the individual is, the helpless one should be a concern for those who have the ability to help; this is a true demonstration of compassion.

Luke 10:33-35 – But a Samaritan who was traveling came to where the injured man was, and when he saw him, he felt compassion for him. He went up to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever else you spend, I will repay you when I come back this way.’

In this most famous parable of Yeshua regarding the good Samaritan, the illustration is placed before us of the depth of compassion shown to be evident in someone caring for the needs of another, an anonymous individual who had no ability to help themself after being assaulted and left for dead. I can think of no greater example of helplessness than this. We are encouraged to follow the example of the Samaritan in the parable in the summation of the lesson by Yeshua.

Luke 10:36-37 – Which of these three do you think became a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” The expert in religious law said, “The one who showed mercy to him.” So Yeshua said to him, “Go and do the same.”

This mercy or compassion is the quality that should be evident in our lives, even if we do not know the individual who is in need.

In a more subtle way, we can also demonstrate compassion on those with whom we may be at odds due to some unreconciled conflict.

Matthew 5:23-24 – “So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, “leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.

If someone has wronged you, the relationship cannot be restored unless you extend compassion; you are helping someone who cannot get help themselves get past some misunderstanding or offense. This is equally as compassionate as providing food or clothing to those who have none, or very little. If we are to imitate our Father, it has to be in relentlessly building bridges between those who are unyielding in their positions or those whose circumstances will not be changed without some sort of intervention. Our compassion is designed to be the catalyst that drops barriers, opens doors, meets physical needs and sparks understanding. Compassion is building bridges to others who are unable to get from where they are to where God ultimately wants them to be.

This is the end-goal of the command for us to be merciful and compassionate with others. It has less to do with our obedience and more to do with genuinely desiring to help those who cannot help themselves. When we lay down our own lives (our personal ambitions and plans) for the sake of others, we are then acting in a godly fashion that God expects of his children. To exhibit the characteristics of God by helping the helpless is not only an honor and privilege he affords us, but we also then become the avenues through which God can work in practical ways in their lives.

Through helping the helpless, we demonstrate we are followers of Messiah Yeshua. This is how we bear God’s image in this world. This is how we become God’s workers and co-laborers in the building of the Kingdom.


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 at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Creating peace in a world of chaos

The believer’s mission in society is all about promoting peace where it does not currently exist.

The believer’s mission in society is all about promoting peace where it does not currently exist.

Romans 12:16-18 – Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Paul was writing to the Roman believers to instill in them a strong foundation in not only the doctrinal facets of their faith but the practical aspects, as well. In summarizing the believers’ responsibilities toward others, Paul latches on to one of the most profound teachings of Messiah:

Matthew 5:44 – But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…

Paul conveys this as, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse,” (Romans 12:14). Why would the Roman believers need to hear this unless they were indeed being persecuted for their faith? Paul goes even further to quote this consistent biblical ethic as it was stated by Solomon in the proverbs.

Romans 12:20 – But If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head.

Boiled down into a modern vernacular, what Paul, Solomon, and Yeshua all appear to be saying is that doing nice things to those who are not nice to you results in them feeling the heat of shame at having been mean to you, vividly described as having hot coals poured on their head. To bless them when they are persecuting you means to say and do nice things to them even though they are oppressing you.

But we can only be nice in the face of opposition when we are not reacting with like emotion for like. We have to bring a new resource to the conflict, a resource of forgiveness and desire for love and open communication. Paul says to not repay evil with evil, but instead, to “overcome evil with good,” (Romans 12:21). This is the only way peace can be promoted within a society of divided interests.

We live in an age where this type of divisive environment breeds at an accelerated pace due to the instantaneous communication channels available to us as the internet continues to link the world together. To make matters worse, many oppressors feel empowered to spread conflict by remaining anonymous behind user names. For those of us who are tasked with being peacemakers, there is no small challenge in trying to remain unaffected by comments and commentary that cannot be unseen or unheard. Yet, as believers, if we are directly confronted by these anonymous pot-stirrers, we are tasked with praying for them and blessing them, which is to speak kindly toward and about them regardless of their harmful attitudes.

Online communication aside, we must not allow those hateful attitudes to spill over into our real world interactions with others. While we have an obligation to remain informed on the important cultural issues of the day, we must withhold the reactive impulse to debate acquaintances and family on the same level of animosity that may be thrust at us. Whenever we are confronting the evils of our day, we must do so with a spirit of gentleness, kindness, and goodness. Otherwise we are simply adding fuel to the raging fires of contemporary debate.

Paul encourages believers, “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” For us to do so, we must be thoughtful and consistent in our responses. Our mission is to share the love of God but to do so without compromising the truth of his Word. This may sound simple, but it is incredibly nuanced and at times extremely difficult, as many hard facts about God’s truth can appear intolerant to others. But this is what we are called to do. This is how we, as living sacrifices, are challenged with navigating the cultural debates of our day.

2 Timothy 2:24-25 – The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth.

We should never want to be responsible for shutting the gates of Zion to those who most need to gain entrance. If we are faithful to this consistent instruction throughout God’s Word, we provide opportunities for reconciliation where there were previously none. We can learn to be promoters of peace and calm amidst the chaos of popular opinion, but it takes careful thought and reasoned intention. We can become the peacemakers that both Yeshua and Paul encouraged their followers to be.


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.

Reconciliation in the new creation

Only when we die to ourselves can God then work through us.

Only when we die to ourselves can God then work through us.

2 Corinthians 5:19-20 – That is, in Messiah, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Messiah, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Messiah’s behalf: “Be reconciled to God.”

This description that Paul gives of his ministry has been debated over the years as to whether this ministry of reconciliation applied only to the apostles, or if this is a quality that all believers should demonstrate. I believe the context of the passage provides an insight into how this principle should be applied.

2 Corinthians 5:17-18 – Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Messiah and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.

Paul states if anyone is in Messiah, they are part of the new creation. Therefore, anyone who has been reconciled to God through Messiah has been given us the responsibility of helping to reconcile the world to God through themselves. Certainly, the apostles were the greatest and initial examples of this, as it was necessary for God to first to reconcile all of the scattered tribes of Israel back to himself through their message of faith and hope. But then, as others who feared God also were drawn to the message of faith in Messiah, the circle of reconciliation began to widen across the known world at that time, and continues to this day.

Reconciliation is a process of peace, an adjustment of differences usually involving forgiveness and a restoration to a favorable condition. Yeshua taught that peacemakers are blessed, and that they would be called children of God (Matthew 5:9). This is THE defining characteristic of God’s children. In Jewish tradition based on this ancient concept, this is something still hoped for in a future time.

Tikkun means to repair or improve. Olam means the entire world. In Jewish teachings, any activity that improves the world, bringing it closer to the harmonious state for which it was created is considered Tikkun Olam.

Chabad.org, “Tikkun Olam

While Jews today view this process of repairing or restoring as something that will ultimately lead to a harmonious whole, Paul implies that God already reconciled the world through Messiah, and now it is up to his children to champion the cause to become evident in this reality.

Since God was spiritually reconciling the world to himself through Messiah, it makes sense that his children would also do the same in its current physical state. This is possible only when we recognize that we are no longer allowed to view others from our own limited perspective, but from the perspective of God.

2 Corinthians 5:16 – From now on, then, we do not know anyone from a worldly perspective. Even if we have known Messiah from a worldly perspective, yet now we no longer know him in this way.

We are to view others from a spiritual perspective, in the same way we now know Messiah. We don’t know Yeshua in the same way today as if we were to see him teaching in the streets. He has been exalted to a position of honor and authority at the right hand of God in heavenly places; this is how we relate to him today. Paul says we need to view others in a similar way: from an eternal and spiritual perspective, not from a fleshly one. When we do this, we are then given the ability to look beyond their fleshly resistance or aggression toward God and toward us. We can begin to love them as God does: as a dear creation of his whom he desires to draw to himself.

2 Corinthians 5:15 – And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised.

But this process involves us dying to ourselves in order to see the spiritual reality behind who they appear to be. Only then can we truly become Messiah’s ambassadors, seeing others in the same way that God does, and allowing him to work through us in continuing to reconcile the world to himself. When this happens among his people all around the world, God becomes “all in all,” and the kingdoms of this world then become his.


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 reconciliation of the new creation

The new eyes of the new creation provide new opportunities for forgiveness.

2 Corinthians 5:18-19 – Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Messiah and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. That is, in Messiah, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us.

The very heart of the gospel message has always been about reconciliation and forgiveness. In reconciliation an exchange takes place; exchanging hostility for mercy, exchanging disdain for favor. There is a restorative function in reconciliation: where once there was distance and separation there is now closeness and connection.

Reconciliation takes place when two parties have been separated, and reconciliation then brings them back together. For this to happen there has to be a release, a letting go of injury or transgression; there has to be forgiveness.

In Messiah, reconciliation for Israel with God was accomplished. He became the suffering servant of Isaiah’s prophecy that would be the ultimate representative sacrifice for the nation.

In Messiah, the scattered Israelites who had been absorbed among the nations due to God divorcing them for their rebellious idolatry (like those in Corinth) were reconciled back to him through faith.

In Messiah, any of us who have been separate and distinct from the God of Israel and his people are brought near through faith in him.

Galatians 3:26 – for through faith you are all sons of God in Messiah Yeshua.

All of this can only be accomplished when something unique takes place. Paul tells us what this is in this passage:

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 – From now on, then, we do not know anyone from a worldly perspective. Even if we have known Messiah from a worldly perspective, yet now we no longer know him in this way. Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!

Paul says that believers in Messiah can no longer view anyone from a worldly perspective, literally “according to the flesh.” What they are in the flesh is of no consequence when we are living according to the new creation.

Romans 10:11-12 – For the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on him will not be put to shame, since there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, because the same Lord of all richly blesses all who call on him.

Galatians 3:27-28 – For those of you who were baptized into Messiah have been clothed with Messiah. There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Messiah Yeshua.

Colossians 3:10-11 – You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator. In Messiah there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Messiah is all and in all.

This lack of distinction should be evident in the new creation of God’s kingdom people. In Messiah, all is reconciliation and unity. Just as God does with us, we can no longer look at the fleshly distinctions that separate us from each other. If we retain unforgiveness in our heart, it is due to the fact that we are continuing to look at those who have offended us through fleshly eyes, not the eyes of the new creation.

Because we ourselves are a new creation, we should no longer have a need to retain unforgiveness and separation in our hearts toward those from whom we have separated over some infraction or hurt. We can release it and let it go because we are no longer the same individuals we were before, and because we are no longer viewing them through fleshly eyes.

2 Corinthians 5:16 – From now on, then, we do not know anyone from a worldly perspective.

Even though we were sinful and rebellious toward God, he forgave us and reconciled us to himself. He did not look at us from a worldly perspective but from the perspective of the new creation, the kingdom perspective. As his children, we should do likewise with others.


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

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvR_aNEyA7WEZJtF4B8fZ6g

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

Forgiveness, Reconciliation, and Practical Kindness

Forgiveness of all others, those close to us and those who may be adversarial to us, is required in the kingdom of God.

Core of the Bible podcast #14 – Forgiveness, Reconciliation, and Practical Kindness

In this episode we will be exploring the topic of Forgiveness, some practical ways to demonstrate forgiveness, and the humility and kindness required when we concede to overlook the faults and aggression of others.

Yeshua stated it this way:

Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive men their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive people, neither will your Father forgive your wrongdoing.

The overarching theme where this verse is tucked into the Sermon on the Mount is all about avoiding hypocrisy. Don’t expect something of someone else (including God) if you are not willing to subject yourself to the same principles. If you expect to have God forgive you when you have wronged him, then you should be forgiving of those around you who have wronged you.

But what does this type of forgiveness of other people look like? How can it be enacted in practical ways? Yeshua provides a couple of examples that include a brother who has an offense against you, and an adversary who is taking you to court.

Matthew 5:23-26 “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.”

From this insight, Yeshua is teaching us that a primary aspect of forgiveness looks a lot like reconciliation. By this standard, reconciliation with all others must take place prior to worshiping God or seeking his forgiveness. Seeing how these two concepts are tied together so closely, we can therefore say forgiveness is the root and foundation of all reconciliation. This is a requirement if we are to be asking God for forgiveness.

Additionally, there are two distinctive aspects of reconciliation that Yeshua brings to our attention here: reconciliation with a brother and reconciliation with an opponent. Let’s take a closer look at both of these distinctions in more detail.

When we are talking about reconciliation with our brothers, most of us are likely familiar with another famous passage that Yeshua teaches about forgiveness which involves some math: seventy times seven.

Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked him, “Lord, how often do I have to forgive a brother who wrongs me? Seven times?” Jesus answered him, “I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy times seven.

Okay, now on a technical note, the phrase seventy times seven could also mean seventy-seven times. But I think it can be shown that whether seventy-seven or four hundred and ninety times, Yeshua is speaking in a figure of speech known as hyperbole. He is clearly exaggerating for the sake of emphasis, but it’s an exaggerated emphasis worth making.

The point is that no matter how many times someone offends us or does something wrong by us, we, as believers, as followers of Messiah, are obligated to forgive them. This is not an option for those claiming to be in the kingdom of God. This is a hard teaching which is why it is not practiced as much as it could or should be.

By contrast, if someone is not a believer, they are not likely to pay any attention to this concept, and simply respond in kind when someone offends them. They will lash out, hold a grudge, seek retaliation, or basically do anything that does not require them to concede their position or their pride. Yet, as believers, forgiveness of those who have offended us is a non-negotiable directive of Yeshua that must be adhered to.

For many years when I considered this passage, I had the idea that I would only have to forgive someone if they came to me and asked for forgiveness. If they didn’t, I wouldn’t have to consider actively forgiving them. However, as I’ve grown, I’ve learned that we must take all of Yeshua’s teaching into account if we are to be his followers. In his teaching, there is no room for that kind of petty distinction. Our verse for study today rules out that option when it says:

“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

Notice it says when YOU remember that your brother has something against you, you would be obligated to drop what you were doing, even if you were in the process of offering a sacrifice at the temple. That conveys two things: firstly, an obligation for reconciliation, and secondly, a sense of urgency in resolving conflict with all others at all times.

Additionally, there’s a third aspect that I touched on a few moments ago: there is no point in conducting acts of worship if we have unresolved conflict with others. From God’s perspective, this a kind of hypocritical schizophrenia that is not welcome in his kingdom. Time and time again throughout his teachings, Yeshua and his followers emphasize how deeply religious hypocrisy is hated by God. Look at some of these examples.

Matthew 23:28 – “So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Luke 12:1 – He began saying to His disciples first [of all,] “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

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

James 3:17 – But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.

Maybe you hadn’t realized it, but unresolved conflict in your life while claiming you are a child of God is hypocrisy, and God is not honored by that type of dichotomy.

Now that I’ve stabbed you with that truth, allow me to twist the knife further by saying that this type of forgiveness is not only a requirement for our brothers and those close to us, but is also a requirement for those who may be adversarial to us, as well. So if you think it’s hard to forgive a brother, how much more do you think we need to rely on God’s strength to forgive an enemy?


While we might be able to comprehend how forgiveness of those closest to us is essential, we tend to bristle at the suggestion that those who can be considered our enemies or our adversaries are also to be recipients of the same level of forgiveness from us.

At the root of this reconciliation and forgiveness is a characteristic that perhaps we had not considered: respect. When we forgive and give people the benefit of any doubt, we are essentially respecting their perspective and their known or unknown motives, and we are responding with kindness rather than vindictiveness. From a practical standpoint, I freely admit this is one of the most difficult of all biblical principles to put into practice.

If we actually do this with others, won’t this open us up to be taken advantage of? Very possibly, yes. Some people will see that we are not offering any resistance and will walk all over us. However, if we truly enact active kindness and not just mute submission, what is more likely to happen is something that we are taught from the torah, or instruction of God, when we are kind to our enemies:

Proverbs 25:21-22 – If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat. If they are thirsty, give them water to drink. You will heap burning coals of shame on their heads, and the LORD will reward you.

The apostle Paul echoes this same sentiment when he writes:

Romans 12:17-21 – Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD. Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.

By being good to those who are opposing us, we are going against those natural instincts to retaliate. It is an unexpected response, and can cause them to recognize that they were acting foolishly. The metaphor of the burning coals being heaped on their head is a challenging one, but one that is meant to illustrate how recognized truth can be painful because it involves a recognition of one’s own wrongdoing. It typically takes something unusual to happen in order to shake us out of our destructive habits. When someone is nice to another person who has been only angry and mean with them is certainly one way to make that person sit up and take notice.

I’m sure almost everyone could share a story about someone who was sincerely nice to someone who was mean to them, and the person was won over to friendship, or at least, to stop the oppressive behavior. There is no guarantee that will happen, but it does happen. And regardless of the outcome, it is our biblical obligation to do so.

Yeshua makes another point about the necessity of reconciling with our adversaries:

Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.

Reconciliation even in legal matters is a best practice that we are admonished by Yeshua to demonstrate. We can recognize that when things have become legal battles, that communication, trust, and forgiveness have broken down. Yeshua instructs us to get ahead of this type of entanglement by agreeing with, or making friends with our opponents. The word here can be vague in English; it implies a “giving of oneself wholly.” To my way of thinking, if you are giving yourself wholly to your opponent, then you are essentially conceding the dispute, and you are choosing rather to bear the injustice.

This is a difficult position to maintain, but it is a precedent that Paul has set among believers who disagree:

1 Corinthians 6:6-7 – But instead, one believer sues another–right in front of unbelievers! Even to have such lawsuits with one another is a defeat for you. Why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that? Why not let yourselves be cheated?

What?! Let yourselves be cheated? Paul obviously is out of touch with our current societal standards of personal rights. Or is it rather that our current societal standards are out of touch with the perfection of God’s ideal?

While Paul is admonishing this practice among believers, Yeshua seems to be implying that we should activate this same practice indiscriminately with everyone, even an adversary who would take you to court. We have to remember that in Yeshua’s day, any type of legal court was essentially held at the whim of the judge. You could have an airtight case and still end up having the ruling go against you. Then what would be the result? You would be innocent, you would have stated your case, but you would still be in prison.

Yeshua’s admonition for reconciliation, or “settling out of court” is a safeguard and a protection for the early believers. If they practiced this, it would potentially protect them from an unjust verdict. There was no guarantee that a trial would be fair, and if they were to pursue their rights, they were putting themselves in jeopardy of imprisonment. It would go better for them if they settled or reconciled out of court. They would avoid a potential further injustice, and be demonstrating a measure of love and forgiveness toward an adversary that could potentially change their heart, as well.

Matthew 5:44-47 – But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.

As Yeshua also teaches here, by exhibiting kindness to our adversaries, we are providing them something they need, just like our Father provides sunlight and nourishing rain to all, because he knows these are basic needs, and especially so in an agrarian society. When we act the same way, we are responding as our Father would want us to respond. We are then allowing any legitimate vengeance or retaliation to come from him and him alone, since only he knows the hearts and true motives of all. Most of the time, we may also discover that no vengeance or retaliation is necessary, simply because we didn’t possess all of the facts at the time. This includes adversaries and anyone we may know to be holding something against us.

God values reconciliation over proving our personal “rightness” in any situation. Forgiveness requires humility, humility with our brothers and sisters and humility with our adversaries. Our strength in this area can easily be perceived as foolishness and weakness by the rest of the world, but if that’s the case, we are in good Company:

1 Corinthians 1:25, 27-28 – This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength. … Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.

The relationships we have are mirrors of our heart actions towards others. People will typically be to us what we are to them, and vice versa. So when we take Yeshua’s command to heart and break the cycle of mirroring behaviors, we have an opportunity to create new relationships, and these relationships can bear fruit for God.

Remember, God desires that we approach him without hypocrisy. God is always looking for our hearts to be pure and consistent in all ways with everyone; this includes those close to us and those who would maintain an adversarial position towards us. When we demonstrate humility and forgiveness with all others, we are taking a positive stance in a negative situation in which God has an opportunity to work and be glorified. Because then we are truly behaving like his children, and reaching out to the unreceptive, just like he does.


Well, once again, I hope I’ve been able to provide you some ideas and concepts to meditate on further. We need to keep in mind that if we are to truly overlook the faults of others, we need a measure of humility and understanding because we don’t know everyone’s motives. One of the clearest ways we can respect others is to forgive them when they have wronged us. Let’s keep our focus on reconciliation with all others in which God is glorified, because then we are mirroring his actions to an unreceptive world.

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