April 29, Saturday

 The AMI QT Devotionals from April 24-30 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; and they are the proud parents of their first baby Tyler.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

“Commending Ourselves in Christ”

2 Corinthians 6:4-10

but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

As a pastor and probably also as an Asian, I feel somewhat awkward when I receive a compliment about a sermon I preached or some other ministry responsibilities that I carried out.  The Asian side of me simply isn’t used to receiving compliments, but the Christian/pastor side of me feels awkward about them because I’m supposed to strive for humility and not let myself get “proud” about what I have done.  Because of this, I find it interesting that Paul is willing to say in 2 Corinthians that “as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way.”

Since it seems strange that any servant would try to commend or prove himself to others, we should be mindful of the context of 2 Corinthians.  Here, Paul tried to establish that he was a servant of God to the Corinthian congregants who were rumblings about whether he was worthy to be considered as an apostle or someone with spiritual authority over them.  Paul certainly was not trying to boast or show off, but even if he was, he had a funny way of doing it.  If Christians were required to apply for a position as God’s servant, having to submit a resume that shows why they should be selected for the position, Paul probably wouldn’t have gotten an interview!   Now, while the approval by the Holy Spirit and the power of God certainly would’ve worked to his advantage, experiences such as afflictions, hardships, and poverty wouldn’t have; that is, these don’t seem like the kind of stuff that anyone should be boasting about.  So why would Paul boast about these things?

Paul commended himself because all that he had on his resume, including the trials and struggles he had gone through as someone striving to serve God, pointed to something beyond him.  The apostle was able to endure all of the hardship and boast about it because he was empowered by the love of Jesus to love the church.  Because Paul so intimately knew the love of God, he could declare that he was sorrowful but always rejoicing, that he was poor or having nothing but really possessing everything.  He was so in love with Jesus that he knew that all he had was in Christ and that no afflictions or calamities or hunger or anything could hinder him from displaying that love to the church and to the world.

As we all strive to be servants of God in this world, let us commend ourselves to this world by displaying that all we have is in Christ.  We may face hardships, trials, and persecution, but we can always be rejoicing in the midst of them as we have been deeply touched by God’s immense love expressed through His Son Jesus.

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for your love for me. I pray that as I know you more and more, that I can be empowered to be your servant in this world. Help me to remember that all I have is in you, and give me strength to endure anything that comes my way.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Leviticus 21-22

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