In a call to compassion, God directs a person to earn blessing by providing goods or service to benefit others in need. Recognize the need, care about the needy, commit to doing what you can, and persevere in seeking to alleviate the need. You will earn blessing for completing the responsibilities or incur punishment for declining. The beneficiary also has a responsibility: appreciation.
We begin a bible study series on Compassion—the second module of the Living in the Image of God program. Recall (from Human Responsibilities in Living in the Image of God) that compassion is one of four cardinal human responsibilities of Living in the Image of God. Each study in the series will be presented in a short description, a ten-minute video, and a downloadable discussion guide with notes.
Our understanding of compassion is based on Christ teaching in the Beatitudes and in parables. Also, we find the dictionary definition of compassion quite consistent with Christ teaching. Therefore, we examine the dictionary definition along with the bible information. We describe as call to compassion a situation whereby God alerts a person to a need, thereby inviting the person to provide goods or service to benefit others in need. We see that a call to compassion actually is an invitation to earn blessing. The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31–46) conveys an understanding that God judges a person favorably for completing responsibilities in a call to compassion or unfavorably for declining the call. That is, the call recipient does not have any option for a neutral response (see more in Call to Compassion: Parable of the Sheep and the Goats).
Also, as we discuss in a previous study under Created in the Image of God, we understand compassion in the context of a conceptual human interactions network that God establishes for distributing human service to points of need. Every person is potentially a provider of goods and service needed by others and receiver of goods and service provided by others. Both the provider (i.e., call recipient in a call to compassion) and receiver (i.e., beneficiary in a call to compassion) have responsibilities. The provider responsibility is to recognize the need, care about the needy, commit to doing what he or she can, and persevere in seeking to alleviate the need. The receiver responsibility is to receive the provided goods or service with appreciation. We discuss the provider and receiver responsibilities in this and subsequent studies in the series.
Building faith by Living in the Image of God arises from commitment to God’s purpose and recognizing that your every task or battle belongs to God and he will guide you to complete his tasks and accomplish his goals. Furthermore, “Living in the Image of God” makes you a beneficiary of God’s promise of blessing proclaimed in the Beatitudes and illustrated in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. Every blessing you earn is yours to keep until fulfilled.
Living in the Image of God begins with commitment to God’s purpose and living according to the commitment. A person builds and strengthens faith by Living in the Image of God—based on recognizing that every task or battle belongs to God and he will guide you to complete his tasks and accomplish his goals. Furthermore, in the Beatitudes, Christ proclaims God’s promise of blessing for every person that commits to the responsibilities of representing God in human interactions: through humility toward others, compassion, motivation for righteousness based on commitment to God’s purpose, and acceptance of individual responsibility for peace and righteousness irrespective of what others do or fail to do. Also, Christ describes the blessing further in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, using compassion as an example for Living in the Image of God.
The “salt of the earth” teaching conveys a message that God creates every person with an intrinsic capability to represent his presence and radiate his impact in human interactions. This capability represents the human value of a person before God, which he expects to be evident in interactions with others: to enhance and preserve the goodness of people, like salt enhances and preserves the goodness of food. Let your Godliness be evident to others and motivate them to appreciate God and seek to interact the same way with other people.
In the “salt of the earth” teaching (Matthew 5:13–16), Christ explains the role of a person in human interactions and conveys a message that God creates every person with an intrinsic capability to represent him in interactions with others. Godliness, i.e., the capability to convey the presence of God and radiate his impact in human interactions, is intrinsic to a person as saltiness is intrinsic to salt. Furthermore, every person can implement the capability by harnessing resources that God has provided to guide us in interactions with others. A person’s human value before God arises from the intrinsic capability to represent God in human interactions. Godliness is the intrinsic value of a person in human interactions as saltiness is the intrinsic value of salt in food.
We discuss the “salt of the earth” teaching to understand God’s purpose for every person to make positive impact in human interactions and motivate others to do the same.
The second part of the Beatitudes (third through eighth) identifies four cardinal responsibilities of Living in the Image of God: Humility toward others, compassion (care for others and sensitivity to the needs of others), motivation for righteousness based on commitment to God’s purpose, and individual responsibility for peace and righteousness. The Beatitudes proclaim God’s promise of blessing for a person that commits to these responsibilities and lives according to the commitment.
In the first part of the Sermon on the Mount, referred to as the Beatitudes, Christ proclaims God’s promise of blessing for every person that performs his/her responsibilities of representing God in interactions with others. As we discuss under Resources for Living in the Image of God, the first three Beatitudes describe resources that God provides to guide us whereas the last six (i.e., Beatitudes 3–8) describe the human responsibilities. There are four cardinal responsibilities.
Beatitude 3: Humility toward others.
Beatitudes 4 and 5: Compassion (i.e., care for others and sensitivity to the needs of others).
Beatitude 6: Motivation for righteousness based on commitment to God’s purpose.
Beatitudes 7 and 8: Individual responsibility for peace and righteousness.
We discuss each of the cardinal responsibilities briefly in this bible study and provide more detailed discussion in future studies.
The Beatitudes describe the responsibility of every person to represent God in interactions with others and resources to empower a person to perform the responsibility. The first three Beatitudes explain how to access the resources: commit to God’s purpose of representing him in human interactions; recognize and accept total dependence on him; seek him in recognition of total dependence; and humble yourself before him that he may provide, guide, and direct your human capabilities to accomplish tasks that he assigns to you. The Holy Spirit will lead you to receive and follow God’s guidance and direction every time in every situation.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ explains every person’s responsibility to represent God in interactions with others. The first part of the sermon, referred to as the Beatitudes, describes the responsibility, God’s promise of blessing for those that perform the responsibility, and resources that he provides to empower every person to perform the responsibility. The first three Beatitudes describe how to access the resources (more detail under Following God Schedule by Living in His Image 2of2). The last six (i.e., Beatitudes 3–8) describe the responsibility in terms of God’s purpose for human interactions and relationships. This bible study focusses on accessing the resources.
God creates every person to represent him among others. He establishes provider-receiver relationships among people, whereby every person is potentially a provider of goods and service needed by others and receiver of goods and service provided by others. He expects every person to keep “the way of the Lord” so that he will fulfill his promise. Keeping “the way of the Lord” means “Living in the image of God.”
In this bible study session, we discuss God’s declaration of his purpose for people to understand the implications of being “created in the image of God.” Further, we discuss his explanation of the purpose in a statement to angels regarding Abraham. The information leads to an understanding that God creates every person to represent him among others: to be to other people what God would be to them if he was human like them.
He establishes a network of provider-receiver relationships around every person, which defines human responsibility to others and benefits through others. Every person is potentially a provider of goods and service needed by others and receiver of goods and service provided by others. Thus, the concept of a provider-receiver network around every person enables an understanding of human responsibilities and benefits in God’s distribution of human service to the points of need. The network is dynamic: God can insert people into a network or withdraw people from the network at any time.
God creates every person as channel for his interactions with others. He can interact with a person directly but often chooses to channel his interaction through other people. We discuss Peter-Cornelius meeting to draw examples of direct interaction with God and the Parable of the Good Samaritan as an illustration of God directing human assistance through another person to a person in need. He creates every person with opportunities and capabilities to function as his representative among other people, will call a person to represent him at a point of need, and another person if a call recipient declines.
God can interact directly with a person: through a vision, through the Holy Spirit, or through other manifestations of his presence. Also, he can and often interacts with a person indirectly through other people. He chooses any person as channel for his interactions with others. He often offers the opportunity to a person by placing a need in his/her path. If the person declines, like the priest and Levite in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, God offers the opportunity to another person he chooses. We discuss examples from Peter-Cornelius interactions where God shows he has several options to interact directly with a person. Furthermore, we discuss the Parable of the Good Samaritan as an illustration of God choosing a person to care for another person on his behalf.
Our bible study program continues in 2021 with focus on Living in the Image of God. We will explore the implications for human interactions and relationships; such as husband and wife, parent and child, leader and follower, people versus government, providers and clients in nonprofit or for-profit activities, and among siblings and others. We will share each biweekly session by providing a short description, ten-minutes video, and a modifiable guide for independent study or discussion. We invite everyone to share in our studies, thank all previous participants in our program, and look forward to connecting with you in 2021 and thereafter. God bless you.
The Banking Blessings Ministry bible study program will continue in 2021 with focus on Living in the Image of God, exploring implications for various aspects of human interactions and relationships. The program will be re-focused to seek clear understanding of Living in the Image of God as applied to specific aspects of human interactions and relationships: such as husband and wife, parent and child, leader and follower, people versus government, providers and clients in nonprofit or for-profit activities, and among siblings and others. We have general ideas and will continue to work on the details of how the study needs to proceed. We invite every person to consider participating more with us as we work on developing opportunities for expanding participation. We thank all previous participants in our program and look forward to connecting with you in 2021 and thereafter.
An understanding of God’s covenant with Solomon implies the performance of political leadership could determine the fate of a nation in more ways than the direct effects of a successful or failed regime. The government of a people could receive a covenant (conditional promise) from God on behalf of the nation; with the king, president, prime minister, or other head of government as custodian of the covenant. The nation benefits or suffers, depending on the custodian fulfilling or failing to fulfill the conditions of the covenant. An example from Solomon as king of Israel illustrates the relationship. God promised great benefits to Israel if Solomon lived in obedience to him and followed his decrees, laws, and commands. However, he will punish the nation severely if Solomon broke the covenant. That is, God made a covenant with king Solomon on behalf of the nation of Israel.
We discuss God’s covenant with Solomon as king of Israel to understand that a nation’s relationship with God can be affected by its political leadership. As we discuss in a previous study under Authority of Government—Israel Asks for King, God delegates political leadership responsibilities to government, such as represented by the king during the time of Solomon as king of Israel. He expects the government to provide positive leadership (also referred to as effective leadership in A Ruler’s Motivation); whereby the king, president, prime minister, or other head of government walks in obedience to God and leads the nation to do the same as he/she focusses on addressing the nation’s needs. In contrast, negative leadership does not walk in obedience to God or care about the needs of the nation.
God rewards positive leadership and punishes negative. He directs rewards or punishment to the leader and to the nation. His covenant with King Solomon on behalf of Israel provides an example to illustrate the relationship.
We examine Christ rebuke of the teachers of the law to understand Solomon’s vision of effective leadership in the context of assessing the promises and performance of a modern-day political leader. Christ rebuke of the teachers of the law indicates effective leadership includes promoting conditions for equal application of laws and regulations to all, irrespective of status; focuses more on the purpose of laws and customs and less on symbolic gestures; promotes their intrinsic values; and refrains from living for display, admiration, personal honor and actions or behavior that could mislead the people.
Solomon’s vision of effective leadership is presented in the bible as an interaction whereby God approved of Solomon’s desire to govern effectively as king of Israel based on capability and habit of “discernment in administering justice” [1 Kings 3:11]. Although Solomon’s reign provides several illustrations of effective leadership, we turn to Christ teaching in a rebuke of the religious leadership of Israel for a conceptual understanding of effective leadership applicable to modern-day experience. Christ rebuked the teachers of the law for misleading the people because of living a life that suggests the law, Scriptures, and customs applied more to the people and less to their leaders—the teachers of the law. In the rebuke, often referred to as the Seven Woes (Matthew 23), he advised the people to honor and heed the teachers because of their authority but abhor their lifestyle that was inconsistent with their interpretations and teaching.
We examine Christ rebuke of the teachers of the law in the Seven Woes: to understand the meaning of effective leadership as envisioned by Solomon, in the context of God’s purpose for the promises and performance of modern-day political leadership.