Tag: Compassion

Individual Responsibility Regarding Human Capabilities

Living in the Image of God M03S20

Christ teaching in the Parable of the Talents provides understanding that God distributes portions of his resources as grants of human capabilities to every person; which he expects all to deploy toward their individual responsibility to themselves, others, and the environment. He expects every person to do this the same way he would, if he were to manage human responsibilities and capabilities directly in human form. Further, he expects every person to expand and diversify their human capabilities by using them, rewards those that do, and punishes those that stagnate theirs by declining opportunities to use them.

Individual Responsibility Regarding Human Capabilities 20:53

We discuss Christ teaching in the Parable of the Talents to understand that God distributes portions of his resources among people as grants of human capabilities: to empower every person to perform their individual responsibility to themselves, others, and the environment. He expects every person to deploy the resources he grants to them toward their individual responsibility, the same way he would if he managed human responsibilities and capabilities directly in human form. Also, he expects every person to expand and diversify their capabilities by using them.

Further, Christ explains through the parable that God recognizes two human categories based on what a person does with the capabilities he granted to them. One category is the righteous. These are people that use their capabilities and expand and diversify them as a result. The other category is the wicked, which are people that stagnate their capabilities by refusing to use them. God rewards the righteous and punishes the wicked.

This understanding of the Parable of the Talents is based on Matthew 25:14–30 and enriched by our previous discussion of Living in the Image of God.

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Against Hypocrisy

Living in the Image of God M03S19

We discuss Christ teaching against hypocrisy through two events in the bible. First, in the Sermon on the Mount, he describes hypocrisy in terms of the motivation for doing something. He provides examples to distinguish between motivation that pleases God and motivation that displeases him. An act of worship or righteousness pleases God if motivated by seeking to fulfill his purpose. Other motivations displease him, such as seeking recognition, admiration, or honor. The second event is an address to his disciples and followers regarding relationship with Teachers of the Law, where he highlights two aspects of the individual responsibility in interactions with authority—respect for authority and rejection of hypocrisy.

Discuss Christ Teaching Against Hypocrisy 21:50

In this bible study, we discuss Christ teaching against hypocrisy using information from two events in the bible. The first event is the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7). He devotes a good part of the sermon (Matthew 6:1–18) to hypocrisy. He describes hypocrisy in terms of the motivation for doing something, using examples to distinguish between motivation that pleases God and motivation that displeases him. He explains that an act of worship or righteousness pleases God if motivated by seeking to fulfill his purpose. Any other motivation amounts to hypocrisy. Acts of worship or righteousness do not please God if motivated by seeking human recognition, admiration, or honor.

The second event is another major teaching when Christ addressed his disciples and followers regarding their relationship with Teachers of the Law. The address is at times referred to as the Seven Woes (Matthew 23). We focus on the first part of the address, where he highlights two aspects of the individual responsibility regarding interactions with authority. The first is the responsibility to respect and heed the authority and the second is the responsibility to recognize and reject hypocrisy that could manifest with people in authority.

Our discussion of hypocrisy includes an examination of a current event with a focus on understanding the motivation for doing something. Are you motivated by Living in the Image of God: recognizing that God has a purpose for you in every situation and seeking to advance his purpose through your response? Or, are you motivated by a desire for human recognition, admiration, or honor? The answer may not be binary; because human recognition, admiration, or honor could be associated with an objective motivated by Living in the Image of God. However, we expect our discussion to advance understanding and bring us closer to God’s purpose.

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Compassion in Humility

Living in the Image of God M03S17

Jesus washed his disciples’ feet to illustrate a motivation for service fundamental to leading or following: “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.” To serve in humility, elevate others in your mind to the status of master and humble yourself to the status of servant; recognize the master’s need; and provide for the need diligently, wholeheartedly, and in humility, as a servant would to a master. By washing his disciples’ feet, Christ conveys a message that a call to lead or follow is a call to service: to humble self to serve others as a servant would serve a master. God promises blessing to those that serve in humility.

Compassion in Humility 14:40

We discuss an interaction between Jesus and his disciples when he washed their feet individually to teach service in humility. Jesus humbled himself to the status of servant and elevated his disciples in his mind to the status of master. Then he washed their feet individually as a servant would wash the feet of a master. He did this to teach the principle of humble yourself to serve others.

In several previous studies (such as Call to Compassion Example—Good Samaritan), we describe compassion as an act of providing service to alleviate the need of others. We focused on the category of compassion whereby a person more capable provides goods or service to alleviate the need of a person less capable: such as in the Parable of the Good Samaritan that describes a person providing for the need of a robber victim that was incapable of helping himself. However, the current bible study focuses on a category of compassion whereby the service provider is motivated by humility but not necessarily by a superior capability to provide the service.

Compassion in humility describes a motivation for service that is fundamental to leading or following. Christ demonstrated the principle by washing his disciples’ feet: “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave” [Matthew 20:26–27]. To explain the interaction, he declared: “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” [John 13:14]. Therefore, by washing his disciples’ feet, Christ conveys a message that a call to lead or follow is a call to service—to humble self to serve others, even as a servant would serve a master. God promises blessing to those that serve in humility: “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” [John 13:17].

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Individual Responsibility for Forgiveness

Living in the Image of God M03S15

Christ teaching in the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant uses human interactions regarding debt to teach human relationship with God regarding forgiveness of sin. Forgive those that repent from sin they committed against you, the same way that God forgives you when you repent. Repentance establishes a call for forgiveness, as the need of another person establishes a call to compassion. God rewards a person that accepts a call for forgiveness but promises punishment for the one that declines. The same way he rewards those that complete responsibility in a call to compassion and promises punishment for those that decline.

Individual Responsibility for Forgiveness 15:01

We discuss Christ teaching in the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant to understand that God expects you to forgive those that repent from sin they committed against you, the same way he forgives you when you repent. To perform the responsibility, accept repentance from others and forgive them. Also, as we discuss in a previous study under Responding to Sin, guide the others to repentance if they don’t repent on their own initiative (Matthew 18:15–17) and forgive them if they repent.

In addition to laying down the requirement to forgive those that repent, the parable describes the consequences for denying forgiveness. God’s promise of punishment for those that fail to forgive others is described in the parable through a king rescinding his initial grant of mercy to a servant after he was informed that the servant denied mercy to a fellow servant: “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart” [Matthew 18:35].

We discuss the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant to understand (i) God’s mandate to every person to forgive those that repent from any misdeed or undesirable action they committed against you and (ii) his promise of punishment for those that refuse to forgive.

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Human Interactions with God in Call to Compassion

Living in the Image of God M03S06

A call to compassion presents an opportunity for the recipient to function as channel for God’s compassion to the needy. The call could be received through sensitivity to the needs of others or by direct instruction from God. The recipient is called to recognize the need, care about the needy, and seek God to determine a path toward alleviating the need. God may intervene with miracle, often through human effort of the call recipient, to provide goods or service through the recipient to alleviate the need. We discuss examples from two occasions of Jesus and his disciples feeding a crowd of thousands in a remote place.

Human Interactions with God in Call to Compassion 13:47

Examples from the bible show that a call to compassion presents an opportunity for the call recipient to function as channel for God’s compassion. He can communicate the call to the recipient in several ways. We discuss one example where the recipient recognized the need through sensitivity to the needs of others and a second example where the recipient recognized the need by direct instruction from God.

Both examples illustrate that God calls the recipient to recognize the need, care about the needy, and work (while consulting with God) to determine a path toward alleviating the need. He may intervene with a miracle, often through human effort of the call recipient, to provide for the needy through the call recipient as a human intermediary.

The examples come from two occasions when Jesus and his disciples fed a crowd of thousands in a remote place (Mark 6:32–44 and 8:1–10). They illustrate receiving call to compassion, consulting with God to determine a path forward, and God intervening with a miracle to provide for the needy through the call recipient.

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Priority of Compassion

Living in the Image of God M03S05

There should be no law, custom, or regulation against providing goods or service to alleviate the need in a call to compassion. Whereas the procurement of goods or service could be subject to laws, customs, and regulations; there should be no hindrance by any authority against providing procured goods or service in an act of compassion, such as humanitarian assistance to refugees. We draw parallels from Christ response to Pharisee challenge regarding compassion on the Sabbath.

Priority of Compassion 13:09

We discuss Christ response to two challenges by the Pharisees regarding compassion on the Sabbath: to understand that there should be no law, custom, or regulation against providing goods or service to alleviate the need of others. Although the procurement of goods or service in a call to compassion could in general be subject to laws, customs, and regulations; providing the procured goods or service to alleviate the need, such as in humanitarian assistance to refugees, should not be hindered by any law, custom, or regulation.

We draw parallels based on Christ response to challenges by the Pharisees regarding acts of compassion on the Sabbath. One challenge was about the disciples picking and eating grains from a grainfield on the Sabbath. The other challenge was about Christ healing a man with shriveled hand on the Sabbath.

Jesus responded to the first challenge by referring the Pharisees to an interaction between David and the priest of Nob (1 Samuel 21:3–6), whereby the priest provided leftover consecrated bread to David and his men. He authorized them to eat the bread, having determined that he could give the bread to them without violating the religious custom regarding consumption of such bread. Similarly, Jesus, as the Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:27–28), authorized his disciples to pick and eat grains as they passed through a grainfield on the Sabbath, knowing that their action does not violate the spirit of the Sabbath law. The law calls for the seventh day of the week to be reserved as a day of rest so that the people and beasts of burden that provide household labor could rest and be refreshed for the next days of work (Exodus 23:12). Therefore, because the disciples were not at work in the grainfield but only picked grains as they passed through, they did not violate the spirit of the law.

He responded to the second challenge by explaining that an act of compassion, such as healing, has higher priority than observing the Sabbath; thus, does not violate the Sabbath law.

We discuss the challenges and Christ response. Additionally, we discuss the Sabbath law and David’s interaction with the priest of Nob, to understand the challenges and response.

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Compassion by Human Effort and Intercession

Living in the Image of God M03S04

Intercession and human effort by others can move God to grant favors to alleviate the suffering of another person. Therefore, a prayer for the needy will likely be more effective if intertwined with human effort to provide goods or service to alleviate the need. Four men, motivated by compassion and driven by faith, persevered to take a paralyzed neighbor to Jesus despite physical difficulties. Their faith, manifest through their effort, moved Jesus to forgive and heal the paralyzed man.

Compassion by Human Effort and Intercession 10:44

This bible study examines the events of Christ healing a paralyzed man: to understand that intercession and human effort by others can move God to grant favors to alleviate the need of another person. Jesus healed a paralyzed man because of the faith and effort of four men that brought the man to him. The four men recognized the need of the paralyzed man, committed to doing what they could to alleviate the need, believed he would be healed if they took him to Jesus, and persevered to take him to Jesus despite difficulties they encountered. Jesus was moved by their faith to forgive and heal the paralyzed man.

The account illustrates intercession motivated by compassion. The four men and their neighbors decided to take the paralyzed man to Jesus because they had compassion on him and believed that taking him to Jesus would be sufficient to obtain healing for him: “Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them” [Mark 2:3]. They took him to Jesus physically at the time because Jesus was with them in human form. Today, they would have taken him to Jesus by praying for him: that is, by intercession.

Furthermore, the account illustrates that intercession often may need to be intertwined with human effort. That is, a prayer by others on behalf of the needy often will be more effective if intertwined with human effort directed at providing goods or service to alleviate the need. The men were determined to obtain healing for their paralyzed neighbor by taking him to Jesus, organized themselves for the effort, took the man to the site, and persevered against physical difficulties to accomplish their objective of getting him to Jesus. Their intercession, intertwined with human effort, conveyed their faith and compassion to Jesus. He was moved by their faith and effort to forgive the man his sins and heal him from paralysis: “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven’” [Mark 2:5].

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Faith in Compassion

Living in the Image of God M03S03

If you recognize a need, care about the needy, and commit to doing what you can to alleviate the need; then you have received a task of God. He will guide you and would perform a miracle as necessary to complete the task. We discuss two examples: one regarding the compassion and faith of a Centurion that invited Jesus on behalf of his servant; and another regarding Jesus’ compassion for a bereaved widow. The events show that God could intervene with miracle to complete human responsibility in a call to compassion.

Faith in Compassion 11:49

We discuss two examples from Christ ministry to understand a relationship between compassion and faith. Compassion means a person recognizes the need of another and provides goods or service to alleviate the need. Faith in compassion means a person recognizes that a call to compassion is a task of God and that God will guide him or her to accomplish the objective. He will guide your human effort through and beyond your human capabilities.

In the first example, a Centurion had pity on his servant that was sick and recognized that Christ could heal his servant. He had compassion for his servant and faith that Christ will heal his servant. He invited Christ on behalf of his servant [Matthew 8:8]: “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” Christ healed the servant in response [Matthew 8:13]: “Then Jesus said to the centurion, ‘Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.’ And his servant was healed at that moment.” The Centurion’s compassion and faith led to his intercession and resulted in healing for his servant.

In the second example, Jesus encountered the funeral procession for the only son of a widow. He had compassion on the widow, stopped the funeral procession, and restored the dead son back to life. As human, he had compassion for the bereaved widow: “When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, ‘Don’t cry’” [Luke 7:13]. As God, he performed a miracle to restore her dead son [Luke 7:14–15]: “…He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, get up!’ The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.”

The examples illustrate that God can perform a miracle to complete human responsibility in a call to compassion. Therefore, in responding to a call to compassion, focus on your human effort while having faith of God guiding you through and beyond the limits of your human capabilities.

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Joseph Compassion for Mary—Opportunity to Hear God

Living in the Image of God M03S02

Humanly inexplicable pregnancy of Mary raised dilemma for Joseph that he resolved by compassion: recognizing a person in need and doing what you can to alleviate the need. Further, the interactions illustrate the value of allowing reasonable time to understand events and consider response. Joseph’s compassion for Mary bought him time and provided him opportunity to hear God and understand God’s purpose regarding his marital and parental responsibilities to Mary and the child.

Joseph Compassion for Mary—Opportunity to Hear God 11:17

We discuss interactions between Mary and Joseph, the human parents of Jesus; regarding Mary’s pregnancy with Jesus and Joseph’s response to the pregnancy and a Jewish law that appeared relevant. Joseph was engaged to be married to Mary but became aware that Mary was pregnant and he had nothing to do with getting her pregnant. The only human conclusion regarding the development was that Mary committed adultery.

That was a problem, because Jewish law prescribed severe punishment for adulterers. A man and woman that committed adultery were to be put to death. Joseph was expected to refer the matter to the Jewish authority in order to initiate judgment and punishment. However, we will see that Joseph decided he would not seek enforcement of the adultery law against Mary. He would divorce her quietly instead. The word “quietly” is a key part of his decision. It meant he would not expose her to public disgrace in any case.

As he contemplated his intentions, an angel visited him in a dream and explained the circumstances of Mary’s pregnancy. Through the dream, Joseph understood God’s purpose regarding his marital and parental responsibilities to Mary and the child. He woke up from the dream, took Mary home as his wife, and began living his responsibility as Mary’s husband and human father of the Son of God. That is, Joseph’s compassion for Mary bought him time that provided him an opportunity to hear God and understand God’s purpose.

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Call to Appreciation of Compassion

Living in the Image of God M02S08

When God calls a person to provide goods or service to benefit another, he also calls the other to appreciate the act of compassion. Appreciation initiates a process toward realizing the long-term benefits of human service by motivating a hunger to be good to others, sensitivity to others’ needs, and a disposition to accept and complete responsibility in a subsequent call to compassion. Thus, appreciation unlocks the long-term benefits of human service by empowering the receiver of an act of compassion to motivate self and others as the initiating link in a potentially infinite network of provider-receiver relationships.

Call to Appreciation of Compassion 9:48

A call to compassion invokes a complementary call to appreciation. That is, when God calls a person to provide for the needs of another, he also calls the other to appreciate the act of compassion. Thus, a call to compassion establishes a provider-receiver relationship and assigns responsibility to the candidate provider as well as the candidate receiver. Your responsibility as the candidate provider is to recognize the need, care about the needy, commit to doing what you can, and persevere in seeking to alleviate the need. The receiver responsibility is to appreciate the act of compassion. That is, receive the provided goods or service with appreciation.

Appreciation initiates a process toward realizing the long-term benefits of human service. An act of compassion provides a short-term benefit of addressing the immediate need of the beneficiary and, in addition, sows the seed for long-term benefits that are dependent on the receiver’s appreciation. By appreciating the act of compassion, the receiver is motivated to seek to be good to others and sensitive to their needs. As a result, he or she is motivated to accept and complete responsibility in a future call to compassion. By doing so, he or she motivates another that motivates yet another: in a potentially infinite network of provider-receiver relationships. Thus, appreciation motivates the receiver of human service to “go and do likewise” [Luke 10:37] toward fulfilling God’s purpose for the distribution of human service.

This bible study focuses on understanding the relationship between compassion and appreciation in fulfilling God’s purpose for provider-receiver relationships among people. Subsequent studies will discuss Christ teaching and other information in the bible to understand the role of appreciation in human interactions and relationships.

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