Editor’s Note: The AMI QT Devotionals for January 7-8 are provided by Tina Hsu. She is a graduate of Biola University and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.) and currently serves in E. Asia as a preaching intern.
Pastor Ryun’s series will return on Monday.
DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT FOR TODAY
Encountering Grace After Making all the Wrong Choices
Luke 5:27-32 (NASB)
After that He went out and noticed a tax collector named Levi sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow Me.” And he left everything behind, and got up and began to follow Him. And Levi gave a big reception for Him in his house; and there was a great crowd of tax collectors and other people who were reclining at the table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered and said to them, ” It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
This short account of Levi’s calling (also known as Matthew) and life after responding to Jesus shows us that Levi had a genuine encounter with grace, leading him to true repentance and transformation. When Jesus personally approached Levi at his tax booth, Levi met someone who was ready to embrace him and to give him a chance to start new again.
Prior to this encounter, Levi made a decision that consequently led the Jews to alienate and despise him. He had become a tax collector, working on behalf of the Roman Empire. We don’t know what drove him to do this. He could’ve been driven by greed, or perhaps he had lost hope and grew impatient with God because although the Jews were living in the Promised Land, they were still a powerless vassal state under Roman rule. While some Jews continued to worship God and to patiently wait for the Messiah to restore Israel, Levi and many others decided to pursue a more gratifying life in their eyes. For this reason, the religious leaders, though having heart issues of their own, saw people like Levi as unholy and displeasing to God.
When Levi realized that the life he had chosen left him empty, he had no social avenue to return back to the Lord. If he went to the temple, synagogue, or a table to dine with the Jews, the religious leaders in particular would not receive him well. When Jesus approached him at the tax booth and said, “Follow Me,” Levi knew that the God of Israel had personally reached out His hand to him. Jesus accepted Levi and gave him an opportunity to return back to God. Being touched by grace, Levi later became an avenue for many other socially alienated tax collectors to encounter Jesus, as he opened his home to host Jesus and those who needed Jesus’ love and forgiveness.
Oftentimes, when I am doing ministry or praying for a non-believing family member or friend, I become weary and impatient if I don’t see change or growth after a span of time. But I am reminded through Levi’s transformation that only the grace of Jesus brings about a genuine change in people—a transformation that is not man-made, but Spirit-led, that reveals God’s glory.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your passion for the lost and for convicting me to have the same heart as Yours. You not only have the desire, but You also have the power and grace to draw people to Yourself. As I serve You, please help me to rely on You and to boast in Your ability and power, and not in my own. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 2 Kings 6-7