The second part of the Beatitudes (third through eighth) identifies four cardinal responsibilities of Living in the Image of God: Humility toward others, compassion (care for others and sensitivity to the needs of others), motivation for righteousness based on commitment to God’s purpose, and individual responsibility for peace and righteousness. The Beatitudes proclaim God’s promise of blessing for a person that commits to these responsibilities and lives according to the commitment.
In the first part of the Sermon on the Mount, referred to as the Beatitudes, Christ proclaims God’s promise of blessing for every person that performs his/her responsibilities of representing God in interactions with others. As we discuss under Resources for Living in the Image of God, the first three Beatitudes describe resources that God provides to guide us whereas the last six (i.e., Beatitudes 3–8) describe the human responsibilities. There are four cardinal responsibilities.
Beatitude 3: Humility toward others.
Beatitudes 4 and 5: Compassion (i.e., care for others and sensitivity to the needs of others).
Beatitude 6: Motivation for righteousness based on commitment to God’s purpose.
Beatitudes 7 and 8: Individual responsibility for peace and righteousness.
We discuss each of the cardinal responsibilities briefly in this bible study and provide more detailed discussion in future studies.
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.
Christ rejects hypocrisy and rebuked people against hypocrisy on several occasions. He rebuked people that presented themselves as worshiping God but were more concerned about promoting their authority or self-interest, people that asked questions to show off their knowledge instead of seeking to improve understanding, or people that focused on condemning others. We discuss his teaching on hypocrisy and examine circumstances in which he rebuked people against hypocrisy.
Hypocrisy refers to a person’s motivation for an act of worship or righteousness. Is the action motivated by an understanding of God’s purpose in a given situation and desire to fulfill the purpose? Is one motivated by a desire to be recognized and admired or respected by other people? Hypocrisy could manifest in terms of a person professing a belief but their actions are inconsistent with what they profess. Also, hypocrisy could manifest in terms of self-righteousness, resulting in looking down on and judging others but failing to apply same rules and standards to self. Hypocrisy in worship often manifests as play acting, working behind a “mask,” and in general pretending to be something that the person really isn’t.
Christ’s teaching on hypocrisy could be summarized into a simple message: An act of worship or righteousness pleases God if it is motivated by a desire to worship him or serve people to fulfill his purpose. In contrast, an act of worship or righteousness does not please God if it is motivated by self-promotion, seeking human recognition, or any purpose other than serving God.
We examine Christ’s teaching on appreciation based on his interactions with people that he healed. The interactions suggest he wanted to emphasize appreciation as an aspect of the healing process, as if the healing was incomplete without appreciation. We examine accounts regarding 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 was necessary for them to receive full benefits of the healing. We know 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 more than the physical healing was needed to complete the healing process.
BENEFITS OF HUMAN SERVICE Examination of these interactions lead us to understand that every human service offers two potential benefits to the recipient: a short-term benefit that arises from the service addressing an immediate need, such as physical healing; and a long-term benefit that arises because appreciation by the recipient motivates him/her to seek to be good to the provider and an expanding human community around the provider. We believe that this long-term benefit is more important than the short-term benefit and is the reason Christ wanted recipients of his favor to show appreciation and congratulated them after they did.
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.