To respond to a sin by an associate, provide them an opportunity to repent, even if the person has sinned and repented previously. Provide the opportunity diligently and with persistence. If they repent, accept the matter as resolved. However, if they refuse to repent, separate from them to protect yourself from sin.
We discuss Christ teaching to explain the individual responsibility regarding another person (an associate) that has committed sin. He teaches that you should provide the associate with an opportunity to repent. You should do this even if the person has sinned and repented previously. Also, you need to provide the opportunity diligently and with persistence. Christ describes several steps for escalating your effort by involving an increasing number of people. If the person repents, you should accept the matter as resolved. However, if they refuse to repent, then you should separate yourself from them.
The essence of the message is that a sin by an associate threatens your continued association with them, because you need to separate yourself from any person, thing, or event that may cause you to sin (see previous discussion under Individual Responsibility Regarding Sin). First, you should seek to help the associate to remove the sin. You should do so with diligence and persistence. If the associate repents, then accept. However, if the associate refuses to repent, then separate from him or her to protect yourself from sin.
We discuss specific steps based on Christ teaching for seeking to convince the associate to repent.
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.
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.
God’s Schedule for fulfillment of his promise could include an opportunity to change an objective or the approach to accomplishing the objective. We discuss aspects of recognizing such opportunity, understanding what change is needed, and implementing the change. Additionally, we discuss an example from the life of David, when he relocated to enemy territory to separate himself permanently from Saul. Furthermore, the separation provided opportunity for him to build peace-time administration skills that contributed to his preparation for becoming king of Israel. Also, we discuss Christ teaching on recognizing and accepting opportunity for a change, through interactions with a disabled man at Bethesda pool.
An opportunity for a change could arise as a person works toward an objective to which they are committed humanly and spiritually. The person believes in the project as a step toward fulfillment of God’s promise. Such experience could occur in every aspect of living, including business, education, worship, sports, and others. A person could encounter an opportunity to change their pursuit: add a new objective, replace the current objective, or change the approach to accomplishing one or more goals.
OPPORTUNITY OR DISTRACTION? It is important to understand whether the opportunity is from God or an attempt by the devil to distract the person from following God’s Schedule. God will provide opportunities for a person to adjust their pursuit along the path he has chosen for them. In contrast, the devil will attempt distractions to lure a person away from God’s path. Therefore, recognizing an opportunity includes distinguishing between an opportunity from God and an attempt at distraction by the devil.
As we discuss in a previous study under Resisting Enemy Disruption, the devil can attempt to distract a person from Following God’s Schedule by attempting to disrupt their compassion, diligence, appreciation, or any aspect of human interaction essential to living in God’s purpose. To accomplish a distraction, the devil can interfere with or manipulate behavior by exploiting a person’s lust of the flesh (i.e., physical desire), pride (i.e., obsession with status or relative importance), and lust of the eyes (i.e., greed, selfish ambition, or covetousness) and has several options to disguise the attack. In contrast, an opportunity of God will point you to changes you can implement toward accomplishing your goals while preserving your commitment to represent God in every situation and motivate others to do the same.
We discuss an example from the life of David as he tried to avoid confrontation with Saul while committed to the protection and economic well-being of six hundred followers and their families, including himself. He recognized a need and opportunity for change and relocated to Philistine territory with his followers. The relocation won him permanent separation and peace from Saul. Furthermore, he was assigned a base inside Philistine, which provided opportunity for him to build peace-time administration skills that he needed as part of his preparation for becoming king of Israel. Also, we discuss Christ teaching-by-illustration on recognizing and accepting opportunity for a change, through interactions with a disabled man at Bethesda pool.
BIBLE STUDY SERIES ON THE GOSPEL This is the first session in a Banking Blessings Ministry bible study series focused on the gospel. In the series, we study the life and teachings of Jesus as recorded in the gospel according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The objective is to use information from his life and teaching to improve our understanding of God’s purpose for human interactions and relationships.
STUDY SESSION ON BIRTH OF JESUS In this session of the series, we examine God’s interactions with Mary and Joseph regarding the birth of Jesus to learn his purpose for parent-child relationships. Through the study, we learn that parenthood is an appointment from God. He may choose to convey the appointment through biological or non-biological means, but the choice does not affect the nature or significance of the parent-child relationships. For example, God assigned fatherhood of Jesus to Joseph, a descendant of Abraham through David, and through the appointment fulfilled his promise to Abraham that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” [Genesis 12:3]. Also, we learn that when God presents an opportunity, he allows the recipient freedom to accept or decline the opportunity.