Today’s AMI QT Blog is written by Pastor David Son of Symphony Church, Boston.
DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
When I was in college, I had a friend named Moe (not his real name). Moe was a large man: 6’3” and roughly 250 lbs. Although Moe was a member at my church, I didn’t like him very much. For one, he had a hot temper, which had gotten him into trouble at home and with the law several times in his past. But moreover, he always had too much to say. In my flesh, I was extremely annoyed by Moe because I saw in him these two glaring flaws, yet he continued to hang around the church (and me) so faithfully.
One day I got a call saying that Moe had been arrested for aggressively threatening a bank teller. I shook my head in disappointment as a few of my church brothers and I went to his court hearing. Fortunately, Moe only had to spend a week in jail; but in my mind, I wasn’t thankful for the brevity of the sentence—I just saw Moe as a burden to me, the community, and the church.
A week passed, and I went to go pick up Moe from the train station after he had been released from prison. To my surprise, he ran to me and gave me a huge bear hug. He had a huge grin on his face and kept saying how happy he was to see me. But what he said next caught me completely off-guard: he told me that during the week that he was in prison, he shared the gospel with every single person he came into contact with, and both his prison cellmate and the guard posted in front of his cell gave their lives to Jesus!
I began tearing up as God began to humble me in this moment. All this time, I had seen this brother as only a burden. I only saw his weaknesses, his temper and his loud mouth. But it was those very weaknesses that God used to reach people that may otherwise have never been able to receive the gospel. I repented for my lack of faith and my critical spirit against Moe.
Perhaps you have noticed weaknesses/flaws in people (or yourself), and you have fostered a critical spirit. But God says that His “power is made perfect in weakness.” In light of this let us change our approach towards weaknesses as opportunities for God’s power to manifest.
Prayer: God, thank You that You use the weak to display Your strength. I ask that You would help me to see my weaknesses and others’ weaknesses in the way that You see them. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Deuteronomy 23
LUNCH BREAK STUDY
Read Luke 5:27-32: After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.
And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
Questions to Consider
- What was it about Jesus’ choice of company that caused the religious leaders to grumble?
- What justification does Jesus give for his choice of company?
- What does Jesus’ response teach us about what it means to be a follower of Christ?
- The Pharisees and scribes grumbled at Jesus because he was hanging around “tax collectors and sinners.” In those times, rabbis (Jesus was considered a rabbi) did not associate themselves with spiritually poor people (a.k.a. tax collectors, prostitutes, commoners, etc.) But not only did Jesus spend the majority of His time with these “sinners,” He chose His disciples from among them!
- Jesus responds to the religious leaders, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” There is some irony in Jesus’ words, because in reality even the Pharisees were sinners. Yet, in their minds, they saw themselves as righteous. This false perception of their own spiritual state effectively prevented the Pharisees from following Jesus. On the other hand, those who were aware of their own spiritual poverty were drawn to Jesus without hindrance.
- There are many things we can draw from this passage, but we can certainly learn at least two things:
- In order to genuinely follow Christ we must first come to realize our critical need for Him. He cannot actually be our Lord and Savior if we see ourselves as self-sufficient or righteous.
- In Christ, we no longer practice factions/divisions based on outward merits. In other words, we should not measure a person based on our perception of their spirituality or lack thereof. This can be tricky because spiritual maturity is a real thing. But true spiritual maturity is marked by a humility that recognizes one’s own need for God.
This evening, pray for someone who “annoys” you. Maybe you wouldn’t necessarily use that language, but if you’re honest, in your heart you find it burdensome to be around that person. Perhaps it’s a friend, co-worker, or brother/sister in Christ. Or maybe that person is you. Ask God to show you how He sees that person, and to give you His perspective.