We begin our study of Christ’s direct teaching with a two-part discussion of the Sermon on the Mount: Christ’s elaborate sermon recorded in Matthew 5–7. The sermon was a teaching on living in the image of God, which we have also described as “positive human interaction:” i.e., living and interacting with people for the purpose of representing God in everything we do and accomplishing the objectives for which he created us. The sermon consists of two parts. In the first part, he provides the principles of living in the image of God. In this study, we identify the principles as eight steps, which are described in the bible as the Beatitudes. In the second part, he describes specific examples of application of the principles.
THE BEATITUDES Part 1 of our two-part discussion focuses on the Beatitudes: the first part of the Sermon on the Mount. The Beatitudes describe eight steps (or principles) for living in the image of God. The first three Beatitudes describe human relationship with God, the third through eighth describe human interactions, with an overlap in the third Beatitude because it applies to both human relationship with God and human interactions.
The angel that foretold the birth of John the Baptist said of him [Luke 1:16–17]: “He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” We examine the message of John the Baptist in this bible study, to understand his approach to his mission and how his teaching applies to present-day human interaction. The state of human interaction as he saw it was dominated by predator-versus-prey type relationships, whereby people sought to cheat others if they could. He preached a message of repentance [Matthew 3:2; Luke 3:3], that people had to repent from the life of preying on each other and turn to God’s ways in order to be acceptable into God’s kingdom. We examine other parts of the Scripture to understand that “God’s ways” refers to a state of human interaction characterized by mutual provider-receiver relationships, in which every person is a conveyor of the image of God and a channel for God’s compassion.
In a previous bible study (Banking Blessings through Positive Human Interactions) we learned about God’s promise to bless any person that provides selfless service to benefit others in need. This week we study an example from the wonderful testimony of the life of Joseph, the 11th son of Israel. An act of compassion that Joseph performed to two fellow inmates in jail triggered a sequence of events that culminated in grand blessing for him, the people of Egypt and their neighbors, and Joseph’s family in Canaan.
God created every person with a blessings package, from which a person earns blessing by providing service to benefit other persons. When a need exists, God places someone in position to provide for the need. The chosen person may decline (like the priest or Levite in the Parable of the Good Samaritan) or obey by providing a fee or free service to address the need. If the service is for a fee, your reward is determined by commercial relationships. Additionally, you may earn blessing dependent on the service receiver’s feelings and faith. If the service is provided free and satisfies Matthew 6:1-4, then you will earn blessing according to Matthew 25:34-40.