Editor’s Note: The AMI QT devotionals for August 8-14 are provided by Christine Li. Christine graduated from University of Pennsylvania and currently lives and works in New York City. She attends Remnant Church in Manhattan.
Devotional Thought for Today
“After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.”
The world’s third tallest garden gnome is located in upstate New York. According to one of my colleagues, he (the gnome) had held the record of “World’s Largest Gnome” for years until he was finally out-done by others around the world. But instead of quietly lapsing into anonymity, this gnome is still used as a tourist attraction and is billed by his owners sometimes as the “First World’s Largest Gnome.”
Humans are too susceptible to praise; we constantly create opportunities to receive others’ appreciation. Whether it is in demonstrating our expertise, slipping in humblebrags here and there, or creating strange achievements to celebrate, we are always trying to inflate our worth in others’ eyes.
Jesus, who was and is worthy of all honor and adulation, was completely uninterested in all of that. He did not need people to make Him a king; He was already a King. Because God the Father had the final word on His identity, He was free to step away from fawning crowds. By this, Jesus demonstrated who He was ultimately working to please –the Father.
When you do something successfully, do you keep it to yourself, or do you want to somehow tell others about it afterwards? Let’s challenge each other to strive for the humility of Christ. This is certainly not an easy task, but we can start by basking in the work He has done for us and asking Him to dissociate us from the works of our hands. We might find that, as we are more satisfied in our God-given identities, we will no longer need the world’s applause. We will be free from bondage to others’ praise and free to devote ourselves fully to God’s work.
Bible Reading for Today: Psalm 139
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Thessalonians 2:1-7: You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results. 2 We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition. 3 For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. 4 On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. 5 You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. 6 We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. 7 Instead, we were like young children among you.
Questions to Consider
- Paul starts this section recounting his difficulties from ministry. What are potential areas of compromise for Paul?
- What would have been the effects of trying to “please people” rather than pleasing God?
- What keeps Paul faithful to the message and able to reject these temptations?
- Paul mentions a number of pitfalls for what could detract from ministry: deceitfulness, flattering speech, seeking glory from others, manipulating others with authority.
- Seeking to ’please men’ with the preaching would perhaps increase the popularity of Paul’s message. Given that Paul (and team) had suffered in Philippi, there would be temptation to compromise on boldness so the message could be accepted by others (i.e. no more beatings). However, the truth would have been compromised.
- What keeps Paul true to his preaching is the knowledge that God is the witness that examines our hearts. This kind of fear and reverence for God’s holiness and presence keep Paul focused on the mission. He has a task, and he cannot swerve from it, for God is ever-present.
Seeking affirmation from others is an instinct of ours. Is there one particular area of your life that you find is harder to surrender praise for? Let’s ask God to help us in our weaknesses and for security that overrides our weakness.