December 9, Friday

Note: The AMI QT Devotionals from December 5-11 are provided by Pastor Shan Gian, who serves as the Fenway site pastor of 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 Thought for Today

Philippians 2:3-8

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 

9Whenever two people live together, they unknowingly split into two roles:  the one who doesn’t do the dishes and the one who does them but resents his/her roommate for not doing the dishes.  In my very unscientific research, whenever two or more people live together, there is an 85% chance that there will be an argument or passive-aggressive bitterness with regards to the washing of dishes.  In my life, I’ve taken on both roles:  When I’m the one who doesn’t do the dishes, I am thinking, Of course, I’ll do the dishes… eventually, but then, my roommate would end up doing them; and I would be happy as a clam since I didn’t have to do them.  When I’ve played the other role, though, every time I did the dishes—with righteous anger in my heart—I  thought about ways that my roommate could pay for his “transgressions.”

It’s hard to serve others.  When Paul tells us to “count others more significant” and to look out “to the interests of others,” we might delude ourselves into thinking that it’s easy.   Yes, it’s easy to take on a title of being a servant, and any of us can join and serve on a ministry team.  And it’s easy to serve your roommate once or twice, here and there.  But to really count others more significant than us means doing the dishes for the thousandth time instead of your roommate, and doing it with a heart of love and joy—that’s not easy at all.  Doing the dishes might seem like a small example of servanthood but just think about all of the reasons to not do them:  you’ve had a long day; you did them the last 50 times; it’s not fair to you; or you deserve a break, etc.  We can come up with so many reasons why we shouldn’t have to serve others—and they all revolve around ourselves.

And yet, Paul gives us the greatest example of servanthood.  Jesus, though He was God Himself, being a true servant to us all, humbled Himself to serve us, even to the point of dying on a cross. Though Jesus had an infinitely longer list of reasons why He shouldn’t have to serve us, but because of His love for us, He looked not just to His own interests but to our interests.  It may be a struggle to serve others and an even greater struggle to keep on serving others, but let us remember Jesus, who served us and let us die to ourselves that we might do the dishes for others.

Prayer: Jesus, forgive me for only looking out for my own interests.  I pray that as I remember your service to me, that I can in turn consider others more significant than myself.  Jesus, help me to be a servant.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Proverbs 30

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Lunch Break Study

Read John 3:25-30: Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” 27 John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”

Questions to Consider

  1. If John the Baptist had the wrong heart, what would his response have been to what Jesus was doing? How do you think you would’ve responded?
  2. How was John able to respond with humility?
  3. When we get involved in ministry, we can easily fall prey to pride and envy. How can we have a heart of humility like John as we serve?

Notes

  1. The crowds had been with John before, as he preached about the kingdom and baptized people in the Jordan— but now they were all going to Jesus. If John’s heart was in the wrong place, he easily could have seen Jesus as his competition.  If we were John the Baptist, many of us in ministry would have felt inferior or envious.  The crowds leaving us could have easily made us feel as if we were failing in ministry.
  2. Verse 30 sums up John’s heart really well: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”  John was able to respond with humility because he understood that Jesus was the Christ.  He didn’t respond with envy or out of inferiority because he understood that he was the “friend of the bridegroom,” and he could rejoice greatly because what was most important was that people hear the voice of the Bridegroom, who is Jesus.  The purpose of John’s ministry was for people to hear about the Christ, and so when the Christ came, he rejoiced.
  3. We can be humble when we rightly understand who Jesus is and the importance of pointing people to Him. We can celebrate whenever we see anyone striving to live for Jesus, when our desire is to see Jesus increase.

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Evening Reflection

Philippians 2: 3 says, “…in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” How were you able to live this out today?  We all most likely have failed in this, in small or big ways.  Our failures in humility and servanthood all the more highlight what an amazing Savior and Servant we have in Jesus.  Take some time to reflect on how Jesus has served you, and thank Him for His love and grace towards you.

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