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.
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.
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.
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.
The invitation to earn blessing through human service is open to every person irrespective of sin or righteousness. A person can earn blessing despite existing promise of punishment. Also, a person can incur punishment despite existing promise of blessing. Thus, one does not need to be perfect to earn blessing. Blessing and punishment are parallel promises of God, may coexist for a person, and will be fulfilled separately by God’s schedule as if for different people, excepting the forgiveness of punishment through repentance.
This bible study seeks further understanding of God’s invitation to every person to earn blessing by providing goods or services to benefit others. The invitation is open to all, irrespective of existing sin or righteousness. Further, God will fulfill every promise of blessing according to his schedule, irrespective of any incurred punishment. Consistent with his promise in the 2nd commandment, a promise of blessing can coexist with a promise of punishment and will endure through offspring generations.
Blessing and punishment are parallel promises of God and may coexist. A person can earn blessing despite an existing promise of punishment. Also, a person can incur punishment despite an existing promise of blessing. That means a person does not need to be perfect in order to earn blessing. Each promise will be fulfilled separately according to God’s schedule as if for a different person.
We discuss the 2nd commandment to link its promise with the coexistence of blessing and punishment. Also, we discuss several examples from the ancestral lineage of Jesus to understand the fulfillment of parallel promises.
God creates every person with opportunities to earn independent blessing by completing responsibilities as his representative in human interactions; based on conditional promise proclaimed in the Beatitudes and explained through parables. Additionally, a person can receive dependent blessing through prayers by others, inherit blessing from previous family generations, or be blessed in other ways as God chooses. Every blessing accumulates and will be fulfilled at its time. Furthermore, blessing and punishment can coexist as parallel promises of God and do not trade-off against each other.
Every person will have opportunities to receive independent blessing based on God’s conditional promise, dependent blessing that God grants to a person in response to prayers by others, inherited blessing from previous family generations, or other blessing that God grants as he chooses.
Every blessing is a promise to be fulfilled at its time, for the person directly or through offspring generations (e.g., “but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments” [Exodus 20:6]). As we discuss previously under Parallel Promises—in David-Bathsheba Relationship, blessing and punishment can coexist as parallel promises of God. They do not trade-off against each other. Each will be fulfilled separately when God chooses. A person that previously earned blessing could incur punishment. Also, a person can earn blessing even with a promise of punishment hanging on him or her.
For example, the Moabites displeased God by presenting themselves as a source of temptation for alternative worship among descendants of Israel. Furthermore, they presented enmity when their prior relationships with Israel called on them to be friendly (see more under Enduring Blessing—Lessons from Israelite-Moabite Interactions). God frowned on their behavior and prohibited descendants of Israel from intermingling with Moabites. Yet he chose Ruth, a Moabite daughter, as a parental link in the lineage of the Messiah.
We discuss the various opportunities to earn and accumulate blessing. Also, we discuss an example from David to illustrate coexistence and fulfillment of blessing and punishment as parallel promises of God.
The parable of the Sheep and the Goats explains human responsibility in a Call to Compassion and describes God’s judgment regarding performance of the responsibility. He assigns every person to one of two categories based on completing or declining such responsibility. He judges favorably a person that completes and unfavorably those that decline. A person earns blessing for completion or incurs punishment for declining.
In a Call to Compassion, God directs a person’s attention to the need of others and expects the call recipient to recognize the need, care about the needy, commit to providing a solution, and persevere in seeking to alleviate the need. Christ provides formal teaching in two parables to explain what God expects from us in a Call to Compassion. The parable of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30–35) uses an example to explain human behavior in a Call to Compassion. Furthermore, the parable of The Sheep and the Goats explains human responsibility in a Call to Compassion and describes God’s judgment regarding performance of the responsibility. God judges a person favorably for completing his or her responsibility in a call to compassion or unfavorably for declining.
We discuss the parable of the Sheep and the Goats in this bible study and the parable of the Good Samaritan in a future study to expand our understanding of human responsibilities in a call to compassion.
In a call to compassion, God directs a person to earn blessing by providing goods or service to benefit others in need. Recognize the need, care about the needy, commit to doing what you can, and persevere in seeking to alleviate the need. You will earn blessing for completing the responsibilities or incur punishment for declining. The beneficiary also has a responsibility: appreciation.
We begin a bible study series on Compassion—the second module of the Living in the Image of God program. Recall (from Human Responsibilities in Living in the Image of God) that compassion is one of four cardinal human responsibilities of Living in the Image of God. Each study in the series will be presented in a short description, a ten-minute video, and a downloadable discussion guide with notes.
Our understanding of compassion is based on Christ teaching in the Beatitudes and in parables. Also, we find the dictionary definition of compassion quite consistent with Christ teaching. Therefore, we examine the dictionary definition along with the bible information. We describe as call to compassion a situation whereby God alerts a person to a need, thereby inviting the person to provide goods or service to benefit others in need. We see that a call to compassion actually is an invitation to earn blessing. The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31–46) conveys an understanding that God judges a person favorably for completing responsibilities in a call to compassion or unfavorably for declining the call. That is, the call recipient does not have any option for a neutral response (see more in Call to Compassion: Parable of the Sheep and the Goats).
Also, as we discuss in a previous study under Created in the Image of God, we understand compassion in the context of a conceptual human interactions network that God establishes for distributing human service to points of need. Every person is potentially a provider of goods and service needed by others and receiver of goods and service provided by others. Both the provider (i.e., call recipient in a call to compassion) and receiver (i.e., beneficiary in a call to compassion) have responsibilities. The provider responsibility is to recognize the need, care about the needy, commit to doing what he or she can, and persevere in seeking to alleviate the need. The receiver responsibility is to receive the provided goods or service with appreciation. We discuss the provider and receiver responsibilities in this and subsequent studies in the series.
Christ’s invitation to earn blessing through human service is open to all irrespective of any past misdeed. We learn from David-Bathsheba relationship that earned blessing and incurred punishment are parallel promises from God. They can coexist, do not offset each other, and are fulfilled at his choosing. David incurred severe punishment from seducing Bathsheba into adultery, murdering her husband to cover up the affair, and overall for covetousness. The punishment was fulfilled but did not interfere with David’s earned blessing: an inheritance from God’s promise to Abraham to father the ancestral lineage of the Messiah and a direct promise to David that his offspring will succeed him as king of Israel. Both promises were fulfilled through Solomon, a son to David-Bathsheba marriage.
David’s interactions with Bathsheba resulted in both severe punishment and fulfillment of previously earned blessing for David. As we discuss in a previous bible study under Seduction Covetousness Displeases God, David’s sin in the affair with Bathsheba consists of seduction, adultery, murder, and covetousness. He incurred severe punishment from the sin as Prophet Nathan announced to him: the child of the affair will die, a person close to David will sleep with his wives in broad daylight, and calamity will befall him from his household. All the promises were fulfilled.
However, as events representing fulfillment of the punishment unfolded in his life; other events that represent fulfillment of David’s earned blessing occurred in parallel and unaffected by the punishment. First, he inherited blessing from God’s promise to Abraham that was passed to David through several generations via his grandfather Obed and father Jesse. Second, God promised David directly that his offspring will succeed him as king of Israel: “When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom” [2 Samuel 7:12]. God fulfilled both promises through Solomon, a son of David and Bathsheba conceived after their marriage.
The blessings did not buy him out of the punishment, nor did the punishment diminish his blessing in any way.
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.
This is the second of a two-part study from the genealogy of Jesus, to examine the lives of a number of individuals that would have been considered unsuitable based on ordinary standards of current society. Because God selected each of them to be part of the lineage of Christ, we can draw lessons from their lives regarding his purpose for human interactions and relationships. We select four persons—Perez, Boaz, Obed, and Solomon—because the bible provides additional information to enable an understanding of their lives and, potentially, their inclusion in the genealogy. We discussed Perez and Boaz in Part 1. This session looks at Obed and Solomon.
PEREZ, SON OF JUDAH We learned in Part 1 that Perez was a fulfillment of God’s blessing for Judah that was passed to him from Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. Furthermore, Judah earned blessing by offering to sacrifice himself for his junior brother Benjamin. We noted he may have also incurred punishment later for marrying a Canaanite or going to bed with a woman he thought was a prostitute that turned out to be his daughter-in-law. However, any punishment he incurred had no effect on his blessing. The blessing was fulfilled in Perez, a grandfather along the lineage of Christ.
BOAZ, SON OF SALMON AND RAHAB Also, we learned that Boaz was a fulfillment of God’s blessing for Rahab, the prostitute that harbored two Israeli spies in Jericho. Rahab earned blessing because she feared God and protected people she believed were on a mission for him notwithstanding their mission included spying on her people. Any punishment she incurred for prostitution had no effect on her blessing. The blessing was fulfilled in Boaz, a grandfather along the lineage of Christ.
TWO-PART STUDY From the genealogy of Jesus, we examine the lives of a number of individuals who would have been considered unsuitable based on ordinary standards of current society, yet God granted each of them the special favor of being identified as a grandfather along the lineage of our Lord Jesus. We select four persons for the study—Perez, Boaz, Obed, and Solomon—because the bible provides additional information to enable an understanding of their lives. We discuss Perez and Boaz in this session. Obed and Solomon will be discussed in Part 2 of the study.
EARNED BLESSING AND INCURRED PUNISHMENTWe learn based on the study that one can earn blessings even if he/she has previously incurred punishment. Earned blessing and incurred punishment are parallel promises from God. An earned blessing remains effective until fulfilled, irrespective of any other occurrence in the person’s life. Similarly, incurred punishment would remain effective until fulfilled, unless forgiven upon true repentance by the sinner. In any case, incurred punishment does not prevent earning blessing; it does offset, and is not offset by, earned blessing.
GOD DOES NOT NEED PERFECTION Therefore, a person does not need to be perfect to find favor with God. One could earn blessings or experience fulfillment of earned blessings even with incurred punishment in his/her past. The examples in this study provide evidence that all are invited to seek opportunities for blessing. Imperfection does not present insurmountable obstacle against earning blessing.