Jennifer Kim, a graduate of Boston University, spent a year in Shanghai as one-year intern from 2013-14. She is currently serving as a staff at Catalyst Agape Church (New Jersey) while attending Alliance Theological Seminary.
DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY
“ Criteria for Measuring Success: What is Yours?”
When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, 6 “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” 7 And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.
In today’s passage we come across a Roman centurion who pleads to Jesus to heal his servant. While there are dozens of stories in the New Testament of Jesus healing the sick, this story comes as a bit of a shock due to Jesus’s reaction. As Jesus begins to walk to the servant’s home, the centurion stops Jesus and says that he is not worthy of the Lord to come to his house, but by His words alone Jesus can heal his servant (v.8). It states that Jesus marveled at this response and proceeds to declare that there is no man in Israel with greater faith than the centurion.
After my one-year term in Shanghai, I remember returning home discouraged and defeated by what I felt like was a lack of fruit. The ministries I had invested in did not continue after I had left, and I felt that I had nothing to show for my time overseas. While we can often correlate visible fruit and sacrifice as success, in this story we see that faith and submission to the Lord is what leads Jesus to marvel.
Centurions, which means “captain of 100,” would be promoted to this position by their dedication and courage as they worked their way up the ranks; thus they were highly respected. Romans in general were known to place authority and power as a supreme virtue and would persecute anyone who would threaten their rule. For this centurion to say he is not worthy to have Jesus in his home and proclaim that His words alone can heal, he had to lower himself and take off the helmet of authority and power embedded into him as a Roman and given to Him as a commander. His faith and submission to Jesus turned him from the title of “captain of 100” to the greatest man of faith in all of Israel.
While I can assume that I would have received praises from people if I had accomplished something great in Shanghai, Jesus comforts us in saying that He has a different standard of success. His standard looks at the heart. While our culture glorifies visible fruit, let us remember that it was not the Israelites—the chosen people of God—who were deemed with great faith, but it was a soldier; and not just any soldier, but a Roman soldier, who had a faith greater than anybody in the entire nation of Israel. I want to encourage you today to take time to reflect on what you are measuring your success with. Our God is a God who honors a faithful heart. Praise the Lord that Jesus doesn’t measure our faith by our works! Let us be people of faith whom God can marvel at.
Prayer: Lord, You are the giver and producer of all things. Help me to submit to Your authority and walk faithfully in all that You ask of me. Help me to take my eyes off of visible fruit and the praises of man, and cultivate a faith that You can marvel in. Thank You for your work in my life! Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Deuteronomy 32