Devotional Thoughts for Today
Jeremiah 7.16-20 (NASB)
16 “As for you, do not pray for this people, and do not lift up cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with Me; for I do not hear you. 17 Do you not see what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods in order to spite Me. 19 Do they spite Me?” declares the Lord. “Is it not themselves they spite, to their own shame?” 20 Therefore thus says the Lord God, “Behold, My anger and My wrath will be poured out on this place, on man and on beast and on the trees of the field and on the fruit of the ground; and it will burn and not be quenched.”
At our last Encounter (a weekend retreat for men and women separately, which presents the foundational truths of the gospel through a series of talks given by a fellow brother/sister) this past March, I was again reminded of the importance of forgiveness in our lives. Our speakers often emphasized that unforgiveness is like drinking poison in the hope of hurting the other person. We think that by withholding forgiveness from others, we have some kind of power over them; in reality, we poison our own souls as we are separated from the presence of God.
Yesterday, we reflected on what true repentance is—we are reminded that the gospel not only concerns our disobedience of God’s laws, but it is also about our broken relationship with the Father. True repentance does not just remove the consequences of our actions, but it restores what has been broken.
Today, we explore further this idea as God reveals the true nature of sin. Sin at its core is self-harm. As the passage puts it, “Is it not themselves they spite, to their own shame?” (v. 19). It’s rare that we sin in order to spite God; it’s even rarer to consider that we sin to spite ourselves. Yet this is the insight we draw from this passage.
Sin poisons us: unforgiveness poisons our souls, greed poisons our souls, lust poisons our souls, and not trusting God poisons our souls. The list goes on.
Especially in the syncretistic/pluralistic world we live in, we often think that Christianity is the “best” option for us, when in truth, faith in Christ is the only option for us. Only in Christ is our humanity fully restored. It points to a reality in which we are created for a specific purpose: to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.1 When we disobey and are separated from God, it is not just living a subpar life—we are not living. We are designed in such a way where obedience to God is our life.
Therefore, in following anything other than that true purpose, we are indeed spiting ourselves. I pray that we would claim the true humanity God has promised to us through the marvelous work of Christ.
Prayer: Father, thank You that I am Your creation, created for a life of abundance that is greater than any life I could imagine for myself. Forgive me for exchanging that life for anything else. Forgive me for spiting myself. Help me to see the truth of my action and come back to the true life source that is You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Ezekiel 3
1 Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q1A.
Lunch Break Study
Read Psalm 73 (ESV)
1 Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. 3 For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. 5 They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.
12 Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. 13 All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. 16 But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, 17 until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. 18 Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. 19 How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! 20 Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms. 21 When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, 22 I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. 23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Questions to Consider
- Take a moment to outline the train of thought of the psalmist. Where did he begin? Where did he end up? How did he get there?
- What was the turning point for the psalmist? How are we to come to this kind of perspective when we are so stuck in our own thoughts?
- How do verses 25-26 speak to you today? If you are to pray this prayer today, what does it mean?
- The psalmist begins with a declaration of God’s goodness. But he realizes that he has forgotten this goodness. When he looks at the prosperity of the wicked, their comfort, their lack of suffering, the “goodness” they enjoy in life, it seems that fighting for righteousness is in vain. But when he comes to the Lord’s perspective, the discernment God offers, he knows what will happen to the wicked. And when he comes to this perspective, he realizes that there is nothing else that he wants than God. He is his treasure.
- Verse 17. This is the turning point for the psalmist. In other words, it is in worship where his perspective begins to change. This is why regular worship, both daily as well as Sunday, is so crucial to our walk with God. We need to be reminded of the glory of God, where our souls are touched by Him for us to live life with the right understanding and perspective. Without this, we are trapped in our own thoughts on life.
- Personal reflection.
How has God reminded you of how you have been created today? How has He reminded you of your purpose? As you reflect on those moments, take a moment to thank Him. Whom do we have in heaven but God? This is what we have been created for.