The surpassing righteousness of love

The truly righteous actions can’t be legislated.

Matthew 5:20 – “For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.”

Many of the scribes and the Pharisees were famous for abiding by the letter of the law in scrutinizing detail, yet they were guilty of disobeying the spirit of it.

Matthew 23:23 – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, and yet you have neglected the more important matters of the law ​– ​justice, mercy, and faithfulness. These things should have been done without neglecting the others.”

They had become examples of legalistic rule-following; outwardly appearing to obey the law when in their hearts they were just as wicked as the vilest law-breakers whom they would condemn. Yeshua continually called them out for their hypocrisy, and this is what enraged them against him.

For Yeshua, outward actions should stem from the sincerity of the heart; it is not possible to make the heart right just by conducting some outward ritual. This is why it is impossible to legislate morality; it must be something that springs from a place of inward purity, not just outward conformity.

Not every Pharisee or scribe was wicked, and many ultimately came to faith in Messiah among the early believers, albeit struggling to understand how the law would apply to believers in Messiah, as is demonstrated in Acts 15. However, for Yeshua, of primary concern was regenerative work of God’s Spirit on the heart.

John 3:6-8 – “Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. “Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. “The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

When the heart is right, the actions will be right. The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees can only be surpassed when the actions that conform to the Word of God are sincere with no agenda or motivation for self-aggrandizement.

1 John 3:14, 16 – We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers and sisters. The one who does not love remains in death. … This is how we have come to know love: He laid down his life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

If our true motivation is love for others, not just rule following to make ourselves look good, then we can be confident that we are doing the right thing for the right reasons. When the Spirit of God is present in our lives, we can’t help but do things that benefit others, because God is love. And only when we act in truly loving ways towards others is when our righteousness surpasses that of the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees. We can then see the kingdom, and others can see the kingdom in us. It is then that the kingdom of God is manifest in our lives.


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

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

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

Love unfeigned

It’s how we show true compassion for one another.

Romans 12:9-10 – “Let love be unfeigned. Abhor that which is evil; cling to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another…”

When love is encouraged in the NT writings, it is expressed with a Greek adjective sometimes translated in older versions of the Bible as unfeigned. While this can come across as an antiquated English word, the concept is a valid one. I think the word unfeigned captures it well and deserves much more use among believers today.

In ancient Greek culture, actors were called hypocrites because they would wear masks and pretend to be someone else. To feign can mean to impersonate someone else, or to act hypocritically, or to disguise one’s true intent. To feign is essentially to fake something. By contrast, if someone’s intent is unfeigned, it is therefore without hypocrisy; it is sincere, with no hidden agenda or misrepresentation.

Peter encouraged the believers to practice unfeigned love among themselves, saying it was an indication of pure souls who were following the truth of the Spirit of God.

1 Peter 1:22 – “Seeing you all have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that you all love one another with a pure heart fervently…”

Paul also encouraged compassion and love for one another that is real and without hypocrisy. It was not to be just for show or out of sense of compulsion, but it was to be genuine, sincere and from the heart. Paul stated this was characteristic of how the apostles operated within their physical service to the congregations:

2 Corinthians 6:3, 6 – “[We have given] no offence in any thing, that the ministry would not be blamed: … By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned…”

They had demonstrated all of their compassionate help and the sincerity of their ministry by providing shared resources and diligent teaching among the scattered believers through the most unimaginable difficulties of physical circumstances.

2 Corinthians 6:4-5 – “But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in riots, in labors, in watchfulness, in fastings…”

All of these things, Paul says, were demonstrations of their unfeigned love for the brethren; this is what unfeigned love looks like in practice.

The apostle John also condemns love that is expressed as lip service only and juxtaposes that aberration to the ideal of biblical love.

1 John 3:18 – “Little children, let us not love in word or speech only, but in action and in truth.”

Peter, Paul, and John were all pointing believers toward true compassionate love for one another that actually produces fruitful actions on behalf of others. John especially gets right to the heart of the matter by stating that Yeshua set the standard by laying down his life as an act of the purest and most sincere love.

1 John 3:16-17 – “This is how we have come to know love: He laid down his life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brethren. If anyone has this world’s goods and sees a fellow believer in need but withholds compassion from him ​– ​how does God’s love reside in him?”

According to these biblical principles, love unfeigned is a love that acts sincerely and through all difficulties to place the needs of others above ourselves. This should prompt us to thoughtfully and prayerfully consider the true level of our love and compassion for one another today.


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

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

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

Loving actions prove the sincerity of belief

Love must be proven, not just stated.

1 John 3:16-20 – “This is how we have come to know love: He laid down his life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has this world’s goods and sees a brother in need but withholds compassion from him ​– ​how does God’s love reside in him? Little children, let us not love in word or speech, but in action and truth. This is how we will know that we belong to the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows all things.”

The apostle John has much to say when it comes to the love of God and the love of brethren for one another. Many believe this was due to John being within the “inner circle” of Yeshua’s disciples (Peter, James, and John). Others believe it is due to John’s insights into the Greek culture and being relatable to a wider audience than just the Jews of his day. While there could be many indications of John’s perspective on love, this famous portion of his first epistle carries a weighty and convicting central theme: “let us not love in word or speech, but in action and in truth.”

It is easy to love in word or speech, to say that we love someone and yet not meet their basic needs or provide any evidence to them that we do honestly care. James has a similar thought in mind when he writes the following:

James 2:15-16 – If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, stay warm, and be well fed,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it?

Peter also encourages his hearers to be actively using their gifts to serve others in love.

1 Peter 4:8-10 – Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others, as good stewards of the varied grace of God.

Those who put their love into action by serving others in sincerity are the ones who are really demonstrating their compassion to others. However, John also mentions that these compassionate actions must be based on the truth. On this aspect of John’s teaching, the Cambridge Bible Commentary says:

“[Let us not love in word or speech, but] in deed and in truth: Omit the second ‘in’: the preposition is not repeated in the Greek. Tyndale and the Rhemish Version have no second ‘in’.”

This original language construction then ties the word “truth” directly to “action.” The very action itself shows the truth of the intent of the heart. The Pulpit Commentary broadens this principle a little further.

“…to love with the tongue only … is to say kind things which one does not mean, and which one knows to be unreal. Deeds are needed to complete the kind word; truth is needed to correct the insincere tongue.”

Truth is always based on something concrete, some action or real evidence, not just something someone has said. It must be proven, not just stated. Until the action is completed, the intent behind it is not demonstrated to be sincere.

Paul also reinforces this idea when he encouraged the Roman congregation to exhibit ideals that are worthy of all believers.

Romans 12:9-10 – “Love must be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another with mutual love, showing eagerness in honoring one another.”

True love is not hypocritical or stated only; it is lived out and demonstrated to be true in the life of every believer. John concludes by saying, “This is how we will know that we belong to the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows all things.” We can know we belong to the truth when our actions line up with what we believe in our hearts. This is true compassion.


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.

True compassion is not hypocritical

Our lives of faith should be based on genuine care and concern for others to meet their needs.

Matthew 6:2 – When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do–blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get.

We live in an age where everything we do gets posted online, from the clothes we wear to the food we eat, our family moments, and where we spend our vacations. We have become so accustomed to “sharing” everything we do, that sometimes even our good acts of helping others get brought into the limelight of social media, as well.

Yeshua is very particular about ensuring that if we are helping others, we are doing so from a genuine concern for their welfare, not for the opportunity to appear to others as being generous. He states this privacy in an unusual way, saying that the left hand shouldn’t even know what the right hand is doing. This is a hyperbolic way of stating how the privacy of our acts of charity to others should be viewed.

When we do things for others expecting to get rewarded for it in some way, whether from our social group or from God, then the act loses its honest intent. Suddenly we are simply doing things for our own benefit, and not truly for the benefit of others. At its root, this is hypocrisy.

Yeshua had no kind words to say about hypocrisy:

Matthew 6:5 – “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.
Matthew 6:16 – “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.
Matthew 23:23 – “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law–justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.

The apostle Peter, following his Messiah’s lead, includes hypocrisy in a list of evil behaviors that believers should be done with.

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

Our lives of faith should be based on genuine care and concern for others to meet their needs, not out of a selfish desire to appear righteous to others. Be sure to always check motives when you are in a position to help someone else, and that you are doing so out of a sincere desire to love and help them in their distress, not to benefit yourself.


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! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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

Personal and Private Kindness

A true act of kindness rests within the act itself, solely for the benefit of another.

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees [what is done] in secret will reward you.”

Matthew 6:1-4

Be privately and sincerely compassionate toward those in need.

Helping others who are unable to help themselves should be a cornerstone of the practices of all believers. However, those who give or help others merely for outward recognition demonstrate the hypocrisy and pride hidden in their heart.

Yeshua relates that there is a lasting spiritual power in the sincere acts of compassion that are done for the benefits of others with no outward recognition. These are the actions that God “sees,” that are accounted as vital human interactions with real, eternal worth.

Compassion is not a business transaction where we may assist another with the hope of some sort of gain for ourselves or our organization. Real compassion is demonstrated when there is no chance of benefit to oneself. A true act of kindness rests within the act itself, solely for the benefit of another.