Editor’s Note: The AMI QT Devotionals from July 4-10 are provided by Pastor Barry Kang, who heads Symphony Church in Boston. Barry, a graduate of Stanford University and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Sunny (an amazing worship leader, chef and math wizard). They are the proud parents of Caleb and Micah.
Devotional Thought for Today
Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
Right after commanding his readers to put to death that which is earthly, i.e. the old self and its practices (e.g. sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, covetousness, anger, wrath, malice, slander, obscene talk and lies), Paul follows up with verse 11 (see above). We may wonder how the two ideas are connected.
Well, how do you know how you’re doing in Christ? One trap that we fall into is to compare ourselves with others. The Christians in Colossae seemed to have been holding onto tribal markers, such as ethnicity, eating practices and circumcision. As long as they were doing the “right things” and avoiding the “wrong things,” they thought they were spiritual. They were focused on outward markers and appearances rather than their heart condition.
Paul reminds the Christian in Colossae (and us as well) that we are not Christians because we have separated ourselves from other people, but rather because we have been separated for God by Christ. Do you see the difference? The power to put to death earthly and fleshly desires and to live in a Christ-like way comes as we live in the new reality of Christ’s presence. Let us stop looking around us and start looking upwards!
Prayer: Father, I confess my sinfulness to You, especially my tendency to look at my performance as if that’s why I am different from others. I am in need of Your grace and mercy. I ask that You would bring healing into my heart and my mind. I want to live this day in Your joyful presence. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Psalm 98
Lunch Break Study
Read Philippians 2:2-11: Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Questions to Consider:
- What earthly things did Paul formerly take pride in (vv.5-6)?
- What is Paul’s new desire?
- How is the Spirit challenging you to follow Paul’s example?
- Paul formerly derived his identity from his ethnic and spiritual heritage. He was ethnically, educationally, and religiously on par with any Jewish believer.
- After encountering Jesus Christ, Paul forsook everything that had previously given him worth, so that he could find his worth through Christ. Paul uses a Hebraism here (see similar examples spoken by Jesus, e.g. Luke 14:26), where he describes the former things as rubbish to contrast how much greater the worth of Christ is.
Please spend some time meditating upon your desires. Is your desire for earthly things or for Christ? Take some time to pray that Christ would become your greatest desire.