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 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.
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:
Surface-value or short-term benefit that arises from the service addressing an immediate need, such as physical healing.
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.
Example from Mordecai—
Worshiping and Serving God Even in Adversity
Mordecai’s interactions with others show he was committed to worship and serve God, determined what the commitment meant in every situation, and interacted in a way to uphold his commitment. He did this while facing severe adversity due to being the descendant of a captive exile in Babylon. In a subsequent study we show that living in the image of God in spite of his adversity propelled him to triumph over the adversity.
We continue our study series on Responding to Adversity with a sub series on Mordecai, descendant of one of the Jews that fell captive to Nebuchadnezzar and lived in Babylon as exiles for several decades. We examine Mordecai’s life in captivity, focusing on adverse circumstances that befell him and three interactions with others as he lived through the adversity. We discuss the interactions to show how they relate to the meaning of a commitment to worship and serve God. Further, in subsequent studies under the sub series on Mordecai, we highlight how the interactions triggered event sequences that coalesced to lead him to triumph over his adversity.
The sub series helps us understand the life of Mordecai as an example of living in the image of God through adversity and lifting over the adversity as a result.
KEEPING WATCH FOR GOD’S FINAL JUDGMENT means always living according to the mission for which he created humankind. God creates every person to convey his image and compassion in human interactions and relationships. He will determine who has fulfilled the mission and at time of final judgment will instantaneously separate them to inherit eternal life in his kingdom. The rest he will condemn to eternal punishment. This bible study discusses Christ’s teaching about keeping watch to be prepared for final judgment by living in the image of God always.
Christ Teaching on Living in God Perpetually
Christ taught us through his disciples to be ready at all times for God’s final judgment. He explained the judgment will occur instantaneously everywhere: God will separate the righteous (people that he has judged to have lived according to his purpose) from the wicked (people that he has judged to have not lived according to his purpose). No one knows the day or the hour: “…not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” [Matthew 24:36]. Christ used parables to explain that being ready for the final judgment means living in the image of God perpetually.
LIVING IN THE IMAGE OF GOD He had in previous interactions explained the meaning of living in the image of God through formal teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (This_Link), parables such as the Good Samaritan (This_Link), and demonstration of human service such as in feeding a crowd of thousands (This_Link). As we discussed in previous bible studies (e.g., This_Link and This_Link), 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. Furthermore, you fulfill your responsibilities as God’s provider assistant, willingly and gracefully providing service to benefit others when God places a need in your path, or accepting service provided by others with heart-felt appreciation and happiness. Those that God judges to have lived in his image will inherit eternal life in his kingdom. In contrast, those that he judges to have lived a different kind of life will be condemned to eternal punishment.
READY FOR JUDGMENT In this bible study, we focus on understanding what a person needs to do in order to be ready for final judgment. Being ready means living a life that pleases God. We examine Christ’s teaching in the parable of the Faithful and Wise Servant [Matthew 24:45-51] and the parable of the Ten Virgins [Matthew 25:1-13] to understand the meaning of “being ready” or “keeping watch” in the context of human interactions and relationships.
This is the second of a two-part bible study on Christ’s teaching on the call to compassion. As we discussed in previous bible studies, God creates every person to be his provider assistant and assigns responsibilities to each of us through a call to compassion. Through the parable of the Good Samaritan (first part of the study at This_Link), Christ illustrates the circumstances of a call to compassion and what is expected from the chosen provider assistant. This bible study focuses on the parable of the Sheep and the Goats, where he provides a more general teaching on God’s call to compassion.
A mutual provider-receiver relationship results from God creating every person as his provider assistant. Through calls to compassion, he provides opportunities for every person to be a provider sometimes and receiver at other times. Christ uses the parable of the Sheep and the Goats to describe the responsibilities of a provider assistant, rewards for accepting a call to compassion by performing the assigned service, and punishment for declining the call by denying a service.
HUMAN SERVICE God’s call to compassion is about human service. He assigns tasks to individuals to provide them opportunities to help others. A person earns blessing by providing the service or incurs punishment by declining. As we discussed previously at This_Link, earned blessing and incurred punishment accumulate and coexist as parallel promises from God, which he fulfills at his time, except that he will forgive a promise of punishment if the sinner repents and asks for forgiveness. Christ uses the parable of the Sheep and the Goats to explain that he will judge each of us based on our performance as his provider assistant. People that accept God’s call to compassion by providing services placed in their path will inherit eternal life. In contrast, people that decline the call by denying services placed in their path will inherit eternal punishment.
Christ used the parable of the Good Samaritan to teach us about love, compassion, and neighbor. As we discussed in several previous bible studies such as at This_Link, God creates every person to be his provider assistant. He assigns responsibilities to each of us as his provider assistant through a call to compassion.
Christ uses the parable of the Good Samaritan to describe potential circumstances of a call to compassion and what is expected of the provider assistant. Also, he uses the parable to underscore our freedom of choice to respond to a call to compassion by providing the needed service or to disobey by declining the call. Of course, there are rewards for obedience and punishment for disobedience that we will discuss in a future bible study.
In this bible study, we focus on Christ’s teaching through the parable of the Good Samaritan. We learn the meaning of a call to compassion, what is expected of the chosen provider assistant, and who is a neighbor. We also learn about the manifestation of love through compassion. In fact, one could say that Christ defined love through the parable. At the very least, he defined compassion as an effective manifestation of love. We discuss the meaning of compassion and its relationship with love. A call to compassion is an opportunity to perform our function (fulfill the purpose of our creation) as a channel for God’s compassion. Although he can do things for people in a supernatural way, he often prefers to use a natural approach by channeling his compassion through a human provider assistant. The parable of the Good Samaritan illustrates typical interactions between the service receiver and the provider assistant in a call to compassion.
Christ uses parables to describe separation of people into two categories based on living in the image of God: the righteous and the wicked.
The righteous are people that live in the image of God, whereby each person is a channel for God’s compassion and conveyor of his image. As a channel for God’s compassion (i.e., God’s provider assistant), a person recognizes needs placed in their path, commits to providing for the need, and perseveres until they succeed: much like the Samaritan in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Being a conveyor of God’s image means providing reasonable opportunity for people to feel the hand of God through your interactions with them. In contrast, the category of the wicked consists of people that decline God’s call to compassion by denying services placed in their path: much like the chief priest and the Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Christ describes the categorization through the parables of the weeds [Matthew 13:24–29 and 37–43], the net [Matthew 13:47–50] and the sheep and the goats [Matthew 25:31–46].
ETERNAL LIFE FOR THE RIGHTEOUS He explained through the parables that the righteous will inherit eternal life in the kingdom of God. The wicked, in contrast, will be condemned to eternal punishment in a fiery furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Also, he explained through the parable of the weeds that God offers every person a persistent opportunity to repent from a life of wickedness to a life of righteousness. The opportunity persists until death or final judgment, whichever comes first [Matthew 13:40]. We examine the three parables in this study and use information contained in them and other related teachings of Christ to discuss the meaning of righteousness.
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.