June 13, Monday

shanEditor’s Note:  The AMI QT Devotionals from June 13-19 are provided by Pastor Shan Gian, who serves at Symphony Church in Boston.  Shan, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania and Gordon Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Jenny, who recently gave birth to their first baby Tyler.

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Galatians 5:1

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Vector illustration of a man lock up in prisonBeing convicted of a crime and doing jail time is probably as low as it can get for any person.  There is so much shame and humiliation that goes with it.  And yet when we look at the recidivism rate (the percentage of former prisoners being rearrested) in the United States, over 60% of ex-convicts end up back in prison.  These are men and women who have experienced the rock bottom of being imprisoned and have then experienced the joy and the freedom of being released, and yet, over 60% of them find themselves submitting again to the yoke of slavery.

You would think that once someone has experienced the sweet freedom of Jesus Christ, they then would not want to go back into slavery.  But Apostle Paul had to instruct the Galatians to not submit again to the yoke of slavery, because they, like us, were so prone to find themselves in slavery again.  The Galatians had been set free from a salvation by good works.  The cross of Jesus Christ had given them freedom, but so many of them had fallen into the temptation of living by their works again, thus submitting themselves again to the yoke of slavery.

We find this temptation at work in our own lives.  If we’ve put our faith in Jesus Christ, we’ve been set free.  We are completely free from having to prove ourselves through our own righteousness and good works.  Yet many Christians often don’t feel very free.  They feel burdened and heavy laden by all that it takes to be a “good” Christian.  Without realizing it, they are submitting to slavery, striving to prove themselves, trying to be good enough for God.

This is why Paul tells us to stand firm.  We can so easily forget that Jesus has set us free, and without realizing it, we can fall into the slavery of striving to prove ourselves through good works.  Let us reflect today on how we put ourselves into slavery, and let’s also remind ourselves that Jesus has set us free by what He has done, not by anything we have done.

Bible Reading for Today: Psalm 73

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Lunch Break Study

Read Mark 10:17-22: And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Questions to Consider

  1. How was this young man striving to prove himself?
  2. How did Jesus see him?
  3. Why was this young man so disappointed by Jesus’ command? Why was Jesus’ response so difficult for him?

Notes

  1. This man very clearly was striving to prove himself through his seemingly perfect obedience to the Ten Commandments. He saw himself as righteous because of his own good works.
  2. In spite of this young man’s pride and self-righteousness, Jesus looks upon him with love (v. 21). This should encourage all of us because it shows us that even with this young man’s sin and pride, Jesus had a gracious heart of love for him.
  3. This young man was disappointed because Jesus points out the one thing that he could not do in obedience—to sell all his possessions, give to the poor and follow Jesus.  On the surface, it may seem that this man’s struggle was greed, but when we look deeper, we realize that what this man lacked was a dependence on God.  He walked away sorrowful because he couldn’t give up everything to follow God.

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Evening Reflection

As you’ve been reflecting today, have you seen your tendencies to prove yourself?  But also, how does the freedom of Christ give you hope?  Take some time to pray and celebrate that you have been set free.

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