Tag: Compassion

Respect Honor and Trust—Interactions Among Shunammite Couple

Shunammite Couple Example
On Respect, Honor, and Trust

Mutual respect and trust among Shunammite couple placed them in position to receive God’s blessing. The woman met Elisha, recognized his needs, and persuaded her husband to do what they could to alleviate the needs. The woman respected and honored her husband as family leader and the man respected and honored his wife as spiritual gateway for the family. They provided food and shelter to Elisha, thus, establishing a long-term relationship with him that brought them abundant blessing. Through the events, the woman showed she respected and honored her husband as family leader. Also, the man showed he respected and honored his wife as spiritual gateway for the family.

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Husband and Wife
Husband and Wife
Sweet Publishing freebibleimages.org

We begin a study series on Husband Wife Interactions, whereby we seek understanding of God’s purpose for husband-wife relationships. The study will be based on couples described in the bible. We will examine events from their life to understand how their responses may have contributed to subsequent events. Can we surmise the later events represent a blessing triggered by their responses in earlier events? Or maybe an adversity that could be construed as an unpleasant prelude to subsequent blessing or apparent punishment for earlier misbehavior. Whatever the case, we expect to gain insight into husband-wife interactions: to understand aspects of a couple’s behavior more likely to bring them closer to fulfilling God’s purpose for them, their children, and the broader human community.

Interactions between husband and wife affect how they relate to other people, both outside and within their home, especially, their children. What children learn at home influences how they relate to themselves, other people, and their environment. God created husband and wife at the core of the family unit and gave them the responsibility to direct their children to “keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just” so the children may become vehicles for conveyance of God’s promises [Genesis 18:19]. Interactions between husband and wife are important to their fulfilling the family training responsibility of bringing up children to “keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just.”

Elisha and the Shunammite
Elisha and the Shunammite
wikipedia.org

Our first study in the series focuses on interactions between the Shunammite woman and her husband. As we discuss in a previous bible study under Shunammite Woman Overcomes Adversity, the Shunammite couple developed a lasting close relationship with man of God Elisha and were blessed through their life because of the encounter: the woman gave birth to a son at a time they reasonably would not have expected a child because of the husband’s advanced age, the son was restored to life after sudden and premature death, the family escaped severe famine that ravaged their land for several years, and regained property they lost during sojourn abroad to escape the famine. Our previous study of the Shunammite womand focused on interactions between her and Elisha but also pointed to interactions between her and her husband as the events developed.

The current study focuses on the husband-wife interactions to understand their responses to the events. We find that their interactions were based on mutual recognition and respect for each other’s leadership of specific aspects of family life. The wife recognized and respected her husband’s leadership in over-all family affairs, whereas the husband recognized his wife as the family’s spiritual gateway and not only yielded to but relied on her spiritual leadership. We discuss their interactions through specific events in their life to show they trusted, relied on, and supported each other’s judgment in providing leadership according to the divided responsibilities.

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Season for Giving, Receiving, and Appreciation

Long-Term Benefit of Human Service

Appreciation motivates a “hunger and thirst” for righteousness that extends the benefits of human service through more people and time. We join this year’s celebration of thanksgiving and use the opportunity to discuss Christ’s teaching on appreciation as a motivator of positive human interaction.


Thanksgiving celebration at Plymouth USA
Thanksgiving celebration at Plymouth USA
wikipedia.org

Thanksgiving is celebrated in different parts of the world at various times. In several places, the celebration is associated with harvest and appreciation for the “fruits of the land.” Also in several places, thanksgiving is celebrated near the end of the calendar year in appreciation of all that was good during the year. For example, in several countries of North America, thanksgiving is celebrated late in the calendar year, usually a few weeks before Christmas; thus beginning a season of giving, receiving, and appreciation that lasts through the remainder of the year. People and institutions exchange gifts and greetings to appreciate each other for being who or what they are and for events of the year that brought their paths to cross.

We join in this year’s celebrations: to express our appreciation to all that interacted with our program one way or the other during the year. We thank God for you and appreciate this opportunity to learn his word and share our understanding through Banking Blessings Ministry. We celebrate this year’s interactions and use the opportunity of the celebration to discuss the value of appreciation in motivating positive human interaction.

Go in peace freed from suffering
Go in peace freed from suffering
Sweet Publishing freebibleimages.org

CHRIST’S TEACHING ON APPRECIATION We examine Christ’s teaching on appreciation based on his interactions with two people he healed from persistent illness. The interactions suggest he wanted to emphasize appreciation as important to the healing, as if the healing was incomplete without it. The interactions occurred in regard to a woman he healed of long-term bleeding and a man that was the only one of ten that returned to thank him for healing them of leprosy. In both cases, he appeared to be telling them and us that their appreciation enabled them to receive full benefits of the healing. However, we know based on the biblical accounts that the physical healing was complete in each case before the recipient stepped forward to show appreciation. Therefore, his interactions with them lead us to understand that each recipient needed more than the physical healing to receive full benefit of his/her interaction with Jesus in the healing incident.

HUNGER FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS His interactions with the two lead us to understand that every human service offers two potential benefits to the recipient:

  1. Surface-value or short-term benefit that arises from the service addressing an immediate need, such as physical healing.
  2. Long-term benefit that arises because the recipient’s appreciation motivates him/her to be good, not only to the provider but also to other people.

If the recipient is good to another person as a result, the other also is motivated to be good to yet others. Thus, an act of goodness whereby a person provides a service to alleviate another person’s need could benefit several more people because the recipient’s appreciation motivates him/her to be good to others that are, in turn, motivated to be good to yet others. Thus, the long-term benefit of human service lies in the potential to motivate an expanding community of people to “hunger and thirst for righteousness” [Matthew 5:6] and earn blessing as Jesus described in the Sermon on the Mount. This long-term benefit is more important than the short-term benefit. Christ emphasized its value through personal interactions with the two healing recipients.

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Shunammite Woman Overcomes Adversity

Compassion, Faith, and Persistent Prayer

The Shunammite woman’s compassion for a stranger led her to man of God Elisha, who prayed for her so she was blessed with a son. Later, when the son died unexpectedly, her unwavering faith and persistent prayer by Elisha restored the son to life. Subsequently, she lost her home and land while living abroad to escape a seven-year famine. However, all her losses and more were restored because she was a living testimony of Elisha’s work. On two occasions she lost something she treasured but her loss was restored in full each time because of unwavering faith and persistent prayer.

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We continue our study series on Responding to Adversity with a discussion of interactions between the Shunammite woman and Prophet Elisha, among other (third-party) participants. The interactions began with the woman’s compassion toward a stranger that turned out to be Prophet Elisha and continued with the woman receiving an unexpected but welcome blessing through the birth of a son.

Map showing Shunem and Mt Carmel
Map showing Shunem and Mt Carmel
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However, the blessing appeared to turn into adversity when the son died after a brief illness. She responded with unwavering faith that she expressed in part by seeking out Elisha at Mount Carmel and insisting that he return to his “sanctuary” at her home in Shunem to ensure her son was restored to life. Elisha obliged, returned to the sanctuary, and prayed persistently until the child came back to life.

Several years later, the woman lost her home and land when she and her household relocated to a foreign land to escape a seven-year famine. However, when the king realized she was a living testimony of Elisha’s work (the woman whose son was restored from death), he ordered full restoration of everything she lost while she was away. Therefore, on two different occasions, the Shunammite woman lost something she treasured but the loss was restored in full because of her unwavering faith, human effort, and persistent prayer.

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Living to Receive God’s Intervention—Lesson from Life of Ruth

LIVING TO RECEIVE GOD’S INTERVENTION We learn through the life of Ruth that living in the image of God prepares a person to receive God’s intervention. She inherited an opportunity to receive a grand blessing because of being a descendant of Lot. However, the opportunity alone would not have been enough. She positioned herself to receive fulfillment of the promise by living in the image of God; which manifested through her compassion, humility, sensitivity to needs around her, and persistent diligence in doing what she could to provide for the needs. Ruth married Abraham’s descendant Boaz; they had a son Obed, grandfather of David; and, thus established a family to link the lineage of Abraham and the lineage of Lot to David, a great grandfather in the lineage of the Messiah. Therefore, we learn through her life that living in the image of God prepares a person to receive God’s intervention, even fulfillment of inherited blessing.

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We conclude the study series on Ruth by looking back at her life as an illustration that living in the image of God prepares a person to receive God’s intervention. Ruth inherited an opportunity to become a channel for fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, because her ancestral father Lot was co-beneficiary of the promise by following and assisting Abraham on a mission to establish homeland and ancestry for the Messiah. However, the opportunity alone would not have been enough to ensure fulfillment of the promise through Ruth. Her life includes several events in which she took specific action that brought her closer to fulfillment of the promise but could have diverted her away from it if she had behaved differently. Understanding the Godliness of her choice in each case helps us learn that living in the image of God prepares and positions a person to receive God’s intervention.

Sharing food to a multitude
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As we discussed in a previous bible study under Keeping Watch, living in the image of God implies representing God in every human interaction such that your actions and words radiate Godliness and provide opportunities for other people to feel God. Living in the image of God implies a person fulfills responsibilities as God’s provider assistant, willingly and diligently providing service to benefit others when God places a need in his/her path, or accepting service provided by others with heart-felt appreciation and happiness.

The life of Ruth provides specific examples of living in the image of God. First, she chose to live as a widow in order to comfort and assist her mother-in-law to cope with severe adversity. The choice brought her to Bethlehem from her home country of Moab. Second, her humility and sensitivity to the needs of her family led her to seek opportunity to glean for leftover grains. The search brought her to Boaz’s farm. Third, Boaz granted her preferential gleaning access in his field because of her humility, politeness, diligence and persistent effort; and his prior knowledge of her positive interactions with Naomi. In each of these events, she did something positive that advanced her toward ultimately meeting and marrying Boaz, with whom she established an ancestral link in the lineage of the Messiah.

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Saved from Sodom—Faithful Follower and Compassionate Host



FAITHFUL FOLLOWER AND COMPASSIONATE HOST Lot assisted Abraham on a mission to establish homeland for Christ’s ancestry and earned a stake in God’s promise that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Several generation’s later, his descendant Ruth married Abraham’s descendant Boaz and both became grandparents in the lineage of Christ. Lot performed an act of righteousness by providing food, shelter, and protection in Sodom to angels that he thought were ordinary strangers. His compassion to the “strangers” positioned him to benefit from Abraham’s intercession, whereby God promised to not sweep the righteous away with other inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. God saved Lot on account of Abraham as he destroyed the twin city.

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We continue our study series on Ruth by looking back in her ancestry to understand interactions between Lot and Abraham in relation to God calling Abraham (then Abram) to a special mission and Lot’s interactions with his community prior to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. We are interested in Lot because he was father of the Moabites and therefore progenitor of Ruth’s lineage.

Abram's journey from Haran
Abram’s journey from Haran
Sweet Publishing. FreeBibleImages.org

FAITHFUL FOLLOWER Lot assisted Abraham on his mission to Canaan and worked with him until their peaceful separation: “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you” [Genesis 12:1]. As we discuss in a previous bible study (Leading or Following: Right Heart for Strategic Alliance), Christ taught several generations later that God rewards faithful followers: people that assist in his mission and contribute to its fulfillment. Therefore, by following and working with Abraham on a mission to establish a home for Christ’s ancestry, Lot placed himself in position to partake in God’s promise to Abraham that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” [Genesis 12:3].

INTERCESSION God revealed himself in human form to Abraham, told him about his judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah, and promised to offer the people one more opportunity to repent: “I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know” [Genesis 18:21]. Abraham interceded on behalf of the people and God promised to save the city if enough people showed themselves righteous. Lot was saved on account of Abraham’s intercession because he showed compassion to angels that he thought were ordinary strangers. However, other inhabitants of Sodom did not take advantage as they confirmed themselves wicked by seeking to attack and molest the “strangers.”

COMPASSION Lot’s compassion to the two strangers endeared him to God and contributed to he and his daughters being saved as God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. God offered a final opportunity for repentance to the people through two angels that visited them in human form. Lot saw the two strangers in the evening, offered them shelter and food, and stood his ground to protect them as Sodomites descended on his house from every direction to attack and molest the strangers: “But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof” [Genesis 19:8]. God saved Lot and his family when he destroyed the city with all inhabitants.

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Ruth Joins Naomi—Faith Human Effort and Compassion



FAITH HUMAN EFFORT AND COMPASSION The account of Ruth joining Naomi in Moab and following her to Bethlehem illustrates interactions among faith, human effort, and compassion. Naomi’s family relocated to Moab to seek better life but experienced changes that brought bitterness and challenged her faith. However, the sojourn in Moab and subsequent return to Bethlehem placed her in position to receive God’s intervention through Ruth joining the family. Ruth’s compassion for Naomi brought her to Bethlehem where she faced uncertain but ultimately prosperous future.

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Ruth Joins Naomi
Faith Human Effort and Compassion

We begin a study series on Ruth, in which we examine her ancestry, entry into Naomi’s family in Moab, and subsequent relocation to Bethlehem; where she met and married Boaz, became the great grandmother of David and, therefore, a key link in the lineage of the Messiah. The series begins with Ruth joining Naomi’s family in Moab and returning to Bethlehem with Naomi. The family had relocated to Moab in search of better life but instead experienced calamity as Naomi’s husband and two sons died. Subsequently, her search for better life took her back to Bethlehem accompanied by her widowed daughter-in-law, Ruth.

Fateful departure. Family of Elimelech
Fateful Departure. Family of Elimelech
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FAITH AND HUMAN EFFORT We note that her sojourn in Moab and subsequent return to Bethlehem were driven by human effort: seeking to lift her family to more favorable life while in total submission to God. Because of her faith, she accepted the calamity that befell her family as an act of God and showed she relied entirely on God to help her through the crisis [Ruth 1:21]: “I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.” She considered herself “empty” because she did not know that her daughter-in-law Ruth that joined her family in Moab would go on to become a great grandmother in the lineage of the Messiah.

Her sojourn in Moab placed her in position to receive God’s intervention through Ruth joining her family. Her subsequent return to Bethlehem provided opportunity for Ruth to launch into a life that ultimately brought her into the role that God created for her. Naomi’s experience, therefore, provides an example of human effort and faith placing a person in position to receive God’s intervention.

COMPASSION Ruth, on her part, followed Naomi back to Bethlehem because of compassion. Naomi offered to release her from being a widow, thus providing her an opportunity to go home and seek new life. However, Ruth had compassion on Naomi and decided to remain loyal and committed to Naomi’s family. Therefore, she followed Naomi back to Bethlehem, choosing an uncertain life as widow. Later, she met Boaz in Bethlehem, married him, and together they gave birth to Obed, grandfather of David.

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Motivation for Righteousness—A Christ Teaching on Hypocrisy



Hypocrisy Doesn’t Please God: Even if it Pleases People

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LumoProject.com FreeBibleImages.org My father is always at work
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My father is always at work

Christ rejects hypocrisy and rebuked people against hypocrisy on several occasions. He rebuked people that presented themselves as worshiping God but were more concerned about promoting their authority or self-interest, people that asked questions to show off their knowledge instead of seeking to improve understanding, or people that focused on condemning others. We discuss his teaching on hypocrisy and examine circumstances in which he rebuked people against hypocrisy.

 

 

LumoProject.com FreeBibleImages.org The law forbids you to carry your mat on the Sabbat
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The law forbids you to carry your mat on the Sabbat

Hypocrisy refers to a person’s motivation for an act of worship or righteousness. Is the action motivated by an understanding of God’s purpose in a given situation and desire to fulfill the purpose? Is one motivated by a desire to be recognized and admired or respected by other people? Hypocrisy could manifest in terms of a person professing a belief but their actions are inconsistent with what they profess. Also, hypocrisy could manifest in terms of self-righteousness, resulting in looking down on and judging others but failing to apply same rules and standards to self. Hypocrisy in worship often manifests as play acting, working behind a “mask,” and in general pretending to be something that the person really isn’t.

Christ’s teaching on hypocrisy could be summarized into a simple message: An act of worship or righteousness pleases God if it is motivated by a desire to worship him or serve people to fulfill his purpose. In contrast, an act of worship or righteousness does not please God if it is motivated by self-promotion, seeking human recognition, or any purpose other than serving God.

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