The Sermon on the Mount provides guiding principles (The Beatitudes) and explains the essence of Living in the Image of God. The first three Beatitudes describe commitment to following God’s direction through humility and repentance in order to perform the responsibilities of representing him in human interactions. The third through eighth describe the value of humility, care and sensitivity to the needs of others, motivation for being good, and individual responsibilities in the pursuit of peace and righteousness. Further, Christ explains in the second part of the sermon that God creates every person with an intrinsic capability to be good to others and motivate and preserve their goodness. Similar to the intrinsic quality of salt to enhance and preserve the goodness of food. He expects every person to radiate positive impact in human interactions, similar to a light source radiating light, so that people may benefit and glorify God for each other.
The Sermon on the Mount [Matthew 5–7] was Christ’s formal teaching to explain God’s purpose for human interactions. He declared the guiding principles in The Beatitudes; described the essence of God’s purpose for human interactions using the Salt of the Earth imagery; and discussed several examples to explain God’s expectations in interactions among people.
As we discuss previously in Part 1 of this study (Following God Schedule by Living in His Image 1of2), God creates every person to represent him in interactions with others: to convey his presence and impact as if he was there physically in human form. Through formal teaching in the Sermon on the Mount and parables, physical examples, and interactions with his disciples and others during his human ministry, Christ provides guiding principles and describes the essence of Living in the Image of God—to fulfill God’s purpose for every person to be his representative (aka ambassador) in interactions with others. Those that live according to the principles will follow God’s Schedule and receive fulfillment of his promise. In contrast, those that depart from the principles will depart from the schedule.
We discuss the Sermon on the Mount to understand Living in the Image of God based on Christ teaching of the guiding principles in The Beatitudes and the essence in the Salt of the Earth teaching.
David would not “lay a hand” on Saul because he revered Saul as God’s anointed king of Israel. He was committed to “doing what is right and just” and understood the commitment to mean he would not “stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed.” Therefore, he spared Saul on two occasions despite potential strategic advantage of killing him. Saul expressed regret for seeking David’s life; conceded kingship to David in the first encounter; and, in the second, acknowledged David “will do great things and surely triumph.” Therefore, although David resisted the temptation of killing Saul to clear his way to kingship, he won Saul’s concession of the kingship in the presence of several Israeli witnesses. Thus, his commitment to “doing what is right and just” advanced him along the path to becoming king of Israel.
We discuss David’s interactions with Saul in the context of commitment to God’s mandate to “keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just” [Genesis 18:19] so that God will fulfill his promise. God declared the mandate as he spoke to angels about Abraham. He declared he chose Abraham to become the ancestral father of the Messiah lineage because Abraham will raise his offspring to live in the image of God by doing what is right and just “so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him” [Genesis 18:19]. Thus, God established “doing what is right and just” as the guiding principle for living in his image and necessary condition for receiving fulfillment of his promises.
He mandates every person to understand the meaning of “right and just” to guide their response in every situation and will guide understanding and response for those that are connected to him. We discuss David’s interactions with Saul as reflecting his understanding of the mandate. He would not “lay a hand” on Saul or get into battle against him, because “who can stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless” [1 Samuel 26:9]? David understood that reverence for Saul in awe of God was “right and just” and represented a purpose superior to any other. Therefore, he chose a strategy of avoiding Saul or any battle against him in order to avoid any chance of stretching out his hand against the Lord’s anointed, e.g., see previous study under Mentor Turns Mentee Enemy—in Saul vs David.
The strategy became David’s guiding principle in every interaction with Saul as Saul sought to take his life. Two occasions provide clear illustration of David’s commitment to the principle. On the two occasions, David had access to Saul unnoticed. Both situations appeared to present David with a strategic advantage of eliminating Saul as an obstacle to his becoming king of Israel. Some of his followers urged him to take the advantage. However, David chose instead to confront Saul verbally from a safe distance after leaving evidence of his access to Saul unnoticed by either Saul or his troops. Also, he used the occasions to explain to his followers that he could not stretch out his hand against Saul because Saul deserved reverence as God’s anointed king of Israel.
David had opportunity to kill Saul on both occasions but spared him because his understanding of “doing what is right and just” meant he would not “stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed.” However, although he resisted the temptation of killing Saul to clear his way to kingship, he was the winner on both occasions because Saul conceded the kingship to him in the presence of several Israeli witnesses. We discuss his interactions with Saul on both occasions to understand his commitment to “doing what is right and just” helped him to advance along the path to kingship.
If you hold a position of authority in government, no matter how small the domain, consider the responsibility a demonstration project, to shine your Godliness and radiate positive impact in every direction. The impact will grow more widespread than you could ever imagine. We discuss an example from the bible based on Israel’s victory over Philistines that started with a small battle initiated by Commander Jonathan. His success was small initially but expanded quickly to become an overarching victory.
Positive effort by a single individual with limited authority over a small domain could produce an impact that grows to affect the entire nation. We discuss an example from the bible based on interactions between Israel and Philistines during the time of King Saul. The Israelites and Philistines had setup for battle, but Israel was over-matched in people and equipment; so much that their men were afraid and “hid in caves, in thickets, in rocks, in holes, and in pits” [1 Samuel 13:6]. Israel’s army was organized under two commanders: Saul and Jonathan. The army was in despair and afraid of the formidable enemy [1 Samuel 13:7]: “Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear.”
Commander Jonathan, accompanied by his armor bearer, launched an isolated attack against an enemy outpost and killed twenty Philistines in the battle. News of the attack caused panic among the Philistines. They ran and fought against themselves in confusion [1 Samuel 14:15]: “And there was trembling in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. The garrison and the raiders also trembled; and the earth quaked, so that it was a very great trembling.” The Israelites became aware of the Philistines flight, re-assembled, and pursued them: “When all the Israelites who had hidden in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were on the run, they joined the battle in hot pursuit” [1 Samuel 14:22]. Israel won a great victory over the Philistines.
We discuss three lessons based on the account. First, a military structure that delegated authority to commanders allowed Jonathan sufficient freedom to apply his initiative. His action set the stage for God’s favor to Israel through him and illustrates a benefit of governing through a system of distributed authority and responsibilities. Second, Jonathan’s focused effort yielded positive results that were limited in scope initially but grew into a widespread impact that benefited the entire nation. His accomplishments illustrate the effort of one individual with limited authority in a small domain could become the catalyst for positive change through the entire nation. Third, Jonathan sought and relied on God’s guidance as he contemplated attacking the Philistines outpost. His success illustrates faith of God and commitment to Godliness will direct a person’s effort toward making positive impact in his/her domain of authority.
David and Abigail discovered love through mutual admiration of shared core values. They met as Abigail sought to mediate an escalating dispute between David and her husband. She recognized David as a leader and future king of Israel with God-fearing reputation and mediated the dispute by appealing to his Godliness. She prayed he would avoid any blemish that could constitute a guilt on his conscience. Thus, she sought to preserve his reputation that she and others admired. David appreciated and admired her for understanding and respecting his virtues and principles. Their mutual admiration of shared values became foundation for love and marriage.
The biblical account of interactions among Abigail, Nabal, and David begins with a quarrel between Nabal and David that threatened to escalate into David attacking and destroying Nabal’s household. However, Nabal’s wife Abigail intervened and mediated the dispute successfully. She used her understanding and respect for David’s Godliness and his mission in Israel to redirect him from seeking vengeance against Nabal. David appreciated Abigail: “…for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands” [1 Samuel 25:33]. Further, he thanked God for placing her in position to redirect him from anger: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me” [1 Samuel 25:32].
This encounter between Abigail and David formed the foundation for them to fall in love. They later got married when Abigail became available to remarry after Nabal died. Therefore, we study their encounter as a biblical example of successful courtship.
Abigail’s entreaty to David was motivated by needing to save her household from potential attack by David and his men. She sought to dissuade him from the attack by appealing to his reputation as a God-fearing man and future king of Israel. Her appeal struck a chord of appreciation and admiration in David: he appreciated her as an “angel” that God placed in his path to redirect him from anger and admired her for recognizing, understanding, and respecting his core virtues and principles. He had taken leave of his values to seek retribution against Nabal, but she called him back by reminding him that his reputation as a child of God and future king of Israel is inconsistent with “the staggering burden of needless bloodshed” or self vengeance [1 Samuel 25:31].
Let’s recall that Abigail went to David to mediate an escalating dispute between him and her husband. The mediation was successful [1 Samuel 25:35]: “Then David accepted from her hand what she had brought him and said, ‘Go home in peace. I have heard your words and granted your request.’” Thereafter, Abigail returned to her home and husband while David and his men returned to their base. However, the mediation process established mutual admiration and respect between Abigail and David. After Nabal died, David proposed marriage to Abigail and she accepted. In this bible study, we examine what happened in the mediation that became the foundation for love and marriage of Abigail and David.
Joseph’s father sent him on an errand to check on his brothers and the flock and report their conditions back to him. However, the errand happened to be God’s call to Joseph to undertake a special mission to Egypt: to prepare a sanctuary for the young nation of Israel to survive a severe famine, prosper, and multiply into a great nation. Neither Joseph nor his father recognized the call at the time. God delivered the message by prompting his father to send him on the fateful errand. Also, we learn that God may allow adversity as a channel for effecting a positive change for a person. The person will be in better position to realize the change by remaining steadfast in living in the image of God despite hurting from the adversity.
We continue our study series on parent child relationships focused initially on understanding that God sends messages to children through their parents. In previous sessions, we looked at examples in which the message was clear to the parent. In the Call of Samuel, for example, Eli eventually understood that God wanted to speak to Samuel and instructed him on how to respond. Similarly, each of the examples under Instruction to Parent for Child looked at a clear instruction to a parent to implement something for a child. The current study, in contrast, looks at an example in which the message was delivered as part of normal parent-child interaction with neither the parent nor the child knowing at the time that this was a message from God. We recognize the message today because of the benefit of hindsight based on accounts in the bible.
The example is drawn from the life of Joseph, the eleventh son of Jacob (also known as Israel). His father sent him on what appeared like an ordinary errand to go and check on his senior brothers tending flock in the field.
However, later events indicate that God used the errand to call Joseph to a mission to Egypt: to prepare a sanctuary for the young family of Israel to survive a severe famine and grow and prosper to become the nation that God promised their ancestors. The example provides opportunity to learn the importance of clarity of parental communication and a child listening to a parent with intent to understand and implement the parent’s information. Furthermore, we learn from Joseph’s interactions with his brothers and other people that God may allow adversity as a channel for effecting a positive change for a person. Also, Joseph’s behavior during the adversity help us understand that such person will be in better position to realize the change by remaining steadfast in living in the image of God despite hurting from the adversity.
GODLINESS OPENS OPPORTUNITIES Ruth’s interactions with the community during her first season in Bethlehem highlight humility, politeness, respect for authority, sensitivity to needs around her, and persistent effort at contributing what she could to alleviate the needs. The interactions opened opportunities for her to step into the life for which she is known today. As we discuss in a subsequent bible study, the events that happened during this time led to Ruth marrying Boaz, becoming the grandmother of David, therefore, a grandparent in the lineage of Christ. Ruth’s Godliness opened opportunities for fulfillment of a grand blessing in her life.
This installment of our study series on Ruth focuses on events that occurred during the first season after her arrival in Bethlehem. Her interactions with mother-in-law Naomi and with family relative Boaz highlight the value of humility, politeness, respect for authority, sensitivity to needs around her, commitment to doing what she could to alleviate the needs, and persistent diligence at accomplishing her task.
Ruth and Naomi arrived in Bethlehem during barley harvest. Having been away for a long time, they likely faced economic hardship because they did not have any farm to harvest. Ruth recognized their hardship and determined to do what she could to alleviate the condition. With the approval of her mother-in-law, she decided to go gleaning (i.e., picking grains leftover from regular harvesting) in any farm that would accept her. She was accepted at the first farm she applied, which happened to belong to Boaz, a close relative of Naomi’s husband. Boaz did not only welcome her in his farm but also offered her protection and preferential gleaning access, because of her humility, politeness, positive work habbit (diligence and persistent effort), and his prior knowledge of her positive interactions with Naomi.
In this bible study, we discuss Christ’s teaching on humility through three interactions: first, an interaction with his disciples, when he presented a child as an exemplification of humility and declared that “whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” [Matthew 18:4, NKJV]; second, an interaction with fellow guests at a dinner, where he explained that people should refrain from assigning themselves to seats of honor, to avoid potential demotion by the host, for “whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” [Luke 14:11, NKJV]; and third, an interaction with his disciples and a large audience during the Sermon on the Mount.
Humility conveys a message that a person is available and willing to provide or accept assistance as needed. It sets up an environment for fulfilling God’s purpose of mutual provider-receiver relationships among people, whereby every person is potentially a provider sometimes and receiver at other times. Humility conveys a person as predisposed to appreciate other people as potential providers of human service and willing to perform services to benefit others. Therefore, a person’s humility conveys Godliness to others and motivates them to do the same. God creates every person to be humble, expects and rewards humility, but punishes haughtiness.
Christ uses the parable of the Sower to explain that God grants opportunities to every person to know him and grow, flourish, and bear fruit in him. Furthermore, he uses the parable to warn that a person may fail to accomplish the goal of flourishing and bearing fruit in God because of personal habits and environmental influence.
He identifies three potential causes of failure as poor understanding and assimilation of the message, inadequate connection to spiritual nourishment, and inability to withstand enemy competition. In this discussion of the parable of the Sower, we focus on the approach to guarding against and rising above the potential causes of failure. We discuss our understanding of the potential failures and identify various things we can do to avoid them, in order to attain maturity in God and live the life that he created in us. Also, we recall information from previous bible studies to discuss the meaning of bearing fruit in God.
Through the parable of the Talents, Christ teaches that God grants every person a set of capabilities and expects us to deploy them toward fulfilling responsibilities to ourselves and others.
He expects each person to expand the capabilities, by increasing their value, effectiveness, and variety of deployment. He rewards people that deploy and expand their capabilities and punishes those that stagnate theirs. Furthermore, we learn through the parable that God accepts using commercial enterprise to respond to a call to compassion and extend our capabilities in the process. However, the commercial activities need to satisfy principles of Godliness based on fair value for goods and fair fee for services.
The parable is part of a series of teaching through which Christ explains God’s purpose and expectations for people and how he will judge our performance toward fulfilling the expectations. He uses the parable to explain that God creates every person with the capabilities to perform their functions as his provider assistant. This bible study focuses on Christ’s teaching in the parable of the Talents and tries to increase understanding of the teaching by examining information from other bible passages that point to the principles of Godliness in commercial enterprise.
Christ urges us to convey the message of God to others through our deeds: let your Godliness radiate impact to others “that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” [Matthew 5:16; Luke 8:16]. If we do this, people will be drawn to us as they were drawn to him.
GODLINESS DRAWS PEOPLE People were drawn to Jesus because of his Godliness, which manifested as the power to perform miracles, heal diseases, cast out demons, and explain the word of God clearly. Similarly, human Godliness draws people and manifests as living in the image of God: whereby the person is a channel for God’s compassion (i.e., God’s provider assistant) and conveyor of the image of God. People feel the hand of God in the person’s actions. In this bible study, we examine accounts of people being drawn to Jesus in large numbers because of his Godliness, share understanding of what it means for a person to be Godly and let his/her Godliness shine to impact others. Also, we will recall an example from the life of Joseph to illustrate people being drawn to a person because of Godliness.