October 17, Tuesday

The AMI QT Devotionals from October 16-22 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

“Being Second”

Genesis 13:5-9

And Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, 6 so that the land could not support both of them dwelling together; for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together, 7 and there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. At that time the Canaanites and the Perizzites were dwelling in the land. 8 Then Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.” 

In our world, we place a premium on being first in line. If we’re about to check out of the grocery store, we hope to be the first in line at the register. When it’s opening night of a new blockbuster movie, we want to be first in line if we can. And of course when there’s a big job promotion coming up, we want to be first in line to receive it. Being first in line means more opportunities, more choices, better seats, higher income, etc. So, of course, if we have the choice, we’ll always choose to be first in line.

However, in our passage, Abram goes completely against this tendency and instead chooses to be second. Genesis 13 tells us that there was strife between Abram and Lot’s households, and so Abram knows that the best solution for him and his nephew is to go their separate ways. At this point, Abram had every right to be first in line. Abram was not only older than Lot, but as his uncle, he had familial authority over Lot. Also, Abram knew he was favored by God. He was entitled to put himself first in line to choose the best land for settlement. Yet despite the power and privilege that could have easily justified a choice to be first, Abram chose to be second.

Why would anyone choose to be second? Abram was willing to give up his place in line out of love for Lot. Love is demonstrated by our willingness to put others before ourselves, and Abram clearly loved Lot because he gave up his power and privilege for the sake of his nephew. Every day we carry an entitlement that drives our desire to be first; to walk through a door first, to take what we deserve, to have first pick. But each day yields opportunities to be second and to demonstrate love to our family members, friends, co-workers and the world by giving up our privilege and putting others before ourselves. If we choose to be second, we’re not only demonstrating our love to others, but we’re demonstrating the sacrificial love of Jesus to the world. Let’s strive to be second today!

Prayer: Jesus, help me to lay down my privilege and entitlement and put others before myself this day. I remember that this is what You did as you humbled yourself on the cross for us. I pray that I can love others like You love me. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Acts 8


Lunch Break Study

Read Philippians 2:1-4: So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 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.

Questions to Consider

  1. According to this passage, from where do we find the foundation for humility?
  2. What is the definition of humility according to Philippians 2? How might this go against our own definitions of humility?
  3. How can we have more humility in our lives? What keeps us from being humble?

Notes

  1. The foundation is found in verse 1, where Paul tells us to be humble on the condition that we have received any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love or any work of the Spirit or any affection or sympathy. In sum, the foundation of humility is if we have received anything from Jesus.
  2. The definition of humility from this passage would be to count others more significant than ourselves by looking out for the needs of others. Humility is not looking down on ourselves or thinking of ourselves as worthless, lowly, or and poor. Humility is putting others before ourselves in spite of our own privilege or entitlement.
  3. Humility has to start with our relationship with Jesus. If we spend time with Jesus, then we will come to realize that humility comes from experiencing grace, and not because of our own works. When we recognize this, it empowers us to let go of privilege or entitlement and to put others first and ourselves second. What keeps us from being humble is when we put ourselves not only before others but above Jesus himself.

Evening Reflection

Think about the events of this day. Did you have opportunities to be second today, and if so, did you take them? It’s hard for us to let go of entitlement because we’re naturally selfish; it is only through God’s grace that we can genuinely put the needs of others before our own. However this day was, go to Jesus tonight and ask Him for the strength and humility to love others.

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