Editor’s Note: The AMI Quiet Times from Nov. 30-Dec. 3 are provided by Pastor Ryun Chang.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
And Haman went out that day joyful and glad of heart. But when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, that he neither rose nor trembled before him, he was filled with wrath against Mordecai.
(Esther 3:2, 5: And all the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman . . . but Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage. . . . And when Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage to him, Haman was filled with fury.)
In 597, Pope Gregory the Great sent Augustine of Canterbury (not St. Augustine of Hippo) along with forty monks to Great Britain in hopes of evangelizing the Anglo-Saxons who lived there. But upon arrival, seeing buildings with crosses, they realized that someone had already beaten them to it. No one knows who first evangelized the Anglo-Saxons, but their church was known as the “Celtic Church” (which earlier produced the great missionary St. Patrick in the 5th century). In time, Augustine, after learning about this church, insisted that the Celtic Christians adopt the Catholic way (e.g., celebrating Easter on the Sunday following Passover instead of on the day of Passover). In an important meeting in which the two sides were to talk, it is believed that Augustine—the pope’s deputy no less—greatly offended the Celtic delegation when he refused to get up to greet them. Suffice it to say, they were off to rocky start.
It’s stunning that what triggered Haman the Amalekite (1 Sam. 15:20; Esther 3:1) to plot an empire-wide genocide (from Ethiopia to India) was that he felt slighted by Mordecai, who didn’t greet him—which was likely motivated by God’s stance against the Amalekites (Deut. 25:17-9).
Thereafter, “having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all . . . Jews” (Esther 3:6). Haman’s over-the-top reaction certainly gives a new meaning to the punishment-not-fitting-the-crime.
So, what drives people like Haman and Augustine to act so entitled? Certainly, pride is a factor. Can you imagine Donald Trump greeting anyone first? For others, it may be an extreme case of shyness or fear that the other person won’t reciprocate the greeting. Personally, my favorite excuse is, “I don’t know that person very well.”
What is often overlooked in our reading of Paul’s epistles is how he begins them with a hearty greeting: “To the churches in ______: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” It is such a simple, courteous gesture that can mean so much—particularly to those feeling lonely. So, let us “greet the brothers with a holy kiss” (like in Mexico). Now, if no one greets you first, don’t get mad; instead, you greet them first. Shalom.
Father, I exalt and magnify Your wonderful Name. Forgive me for my prideful attitude of expecting others to greet me and thank me first. Lord, help me to be authentic and humble. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: John 9
Lunch Break Study
Read Matt. 23:5-7: They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, 6 and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues 7 and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.
Luke 18:11: The Pharisees stood up and prayed about himself: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evil doers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”
Phil. 2:4b: . . . in humility consider others better than yourselves.
Question to Consider
- Why do you suppose the Pharisees expected to be greeted first?
- What is the greatest antidote for the kind of bad attitude embodied by the Pharisees?
- Think about three people whom you can greet right now, whether through e-mail, text, or phone.
- They truly believed that they were better than everyone else; that is, God loved and approved of them more because of their many religious activities. That became part of their entitled mentality which led them to expect and demand respect from people
- Considering others better than ourselves is a lot easier said than done since, on paper, some are better than others. How do we do this? In 1 Cor. 8:11, Paul says, “…this weak brother, for whom Christ died.” Isn’t that enough of a reason? But if you are a boss, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you hire or promote individuals who aren’t as prepared or competent as others; rather, it would mean that you would treat them with dignity and courtesy.
- Personal response.
Was it another busy day today and did you run into a lot of people? How was your greeting? Did you greet first, or did you wait for the other person to greet you first? Ask the Lord to give you the strength and motivation to say “Shalom” to everyone you meet and that Christ’s love will shine through you. Though it may seem like a small matter, it can make a world of difference to someone feeling down, alone, and unappreciated.