Editor’s Note: The AMI Quiet Time for today is provided by Christine Chang of GCC.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 2 Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 5 And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
I remember one time as a college student, I posted a photo on Facebook showcasing all the books I had recently purchased, captioned with a declaration that I would be reading them all throughout winter break. I received so many approving “likes” and comments that spoke to my productivity and refined choice of leisure, but here’s a belated update to that highly publicized goal of mine: I didn’t even finish a single book. While it wasn’t my plan to deliberately deceive people, the acknowledgement I received from sharing my goal gave me a false sense of accomplishment and thereby weakened my resolve to actually read.
Contrary to a commonly held assumption that sharing personal goals with others helps us complete them, a recent article from The Berkeley Science Review titled, “When Telling Others About Your Goals Compromises Them,” explains that when it comes to identity goals (goals to achieve a certain identity), receiving social recognition before enacting on a plan can lead to “a premature sense that one already possesses the desired identity.”
While there’s certainly a time and place for accountability, our present culture thrives on over-sharing the details of our lives, especially through social media. It gets harmful when we forget what it feels like to do things in secret, without expecting any human acknowledgment at all. In Matthew 6:6, when Jesus tells us to “go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret,” the room described here was commonly located at the center of a house to store dry goods, and it had no windows. Tim Keller points out that of all the spiritual disciplines, the one that nobody can see is secret prayer—and its absence or presence in our lives reveals our true motive for following God.
When you are all by yourself, do you pray naturally? Do you often feel the need to be recognized for reading the Bible or praying? As humans, I think we’ve all engaged in spiritual acts to satisfy our need for human approval, but as we enter a secret time of prayer, God reveals the hollowness of our actions and then engages our souls with His grace and mercy until His presence is our sole desire. Let’s continue praying corporately while also developing a secret prayer life that deepens our awareness that Jesus alone can satisfy.
Prayer: Father, I’m sorry for the times when I’ve outwardly lived a life for You but inwardly satisfied my own desires. I want to experience the sweetness of praying to You in secret, where my words are honest and vulnerable; where the stillness quiets my soul; where Your gentle whisper penetrates my heart. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: John 12
Lunch Break Study
(Provided by Pastor Ryun Chang)
Read Proverbs 18:24: A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Micah 7:5b: Put no trust in a neighbor; have no confidence in a friend . . .
Jn. 15:13: Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
Question to Consider
- What do these seemingly disparate verses suggest?
- What is the major difference between the biblical friendship as opposed to Facebook friendship?
- Abraham was called God’s friend (James 2:23). What made him so? What kind of a friend are you to the Lord? What does that even mean?
- While we need friends, we don’t need many friends; instead, we need few true ones.
- The Facebook friendship is quantitative and artificial, and exists, for the most part, to amuse each other; the biblical friendship is qualitative and real, and exists to help each other sacrificially.
- The entire James 2:23 reads, “And the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,’ and he was called God’s friend.” It seems like one key prerequisite to being God’s friend is having faith in Him. What does that mean? That we have the confidence that God will do what He said He would. Do you have that confidence in God? If you do, then, you are on your way to becoming His friend!
We talked about friendship today. Haman didn’t know until it was too late that he really had no friends. Did you get to speak to any of your friends today? How would you appraise the depth of your friendship? Do you know what to pray for them? If not, then, perhaps your relationship needs a major tune-up. The first step always is to go to our ultimate Friend, God, and ask Him to empower and motivate us to be a trustworthy friend. Pray.