The AMI QT Devotionals from October 15-21 are written by Pastor Andrew Kim at Tapestry Church. Andrew, a graduate of Eternity Bible College, is currently attending Fuller Theological Seminary. He and Jessie were married in 2014
Devotional Thoughts for Today
And do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not, for behold, I am bringing disaster upon all flesh, declares the Lord. But I will give you your life as a prize of war in all places to which you may go.”
Part of the issue that I see in the world today is what some have called “expressive individualism.” It is the idea that personal expression and fulfillment is the highest reality. It sees the actualization of self as the ultimate priority in life. The manner in which culture and our own lives have been affected by this ideology is profound. For one, since the goal of life is to self-actualize, we live in a posture that commodifies everything around us as a means of taking us one step further in our pursuit of fulfillment. We want to find greatness for ourselves, and any and everything can be used for this very purpose. For example, we see this play out in our relationships. People are often used for our happiness, where our commitments remain strong only if there is something beneficial for us to be had. This is precisely why divorce rates are sky high. If the other person does not bring us some net gain, we don’t see the point of staying in the marriage. Anything that stands in the way of self-fulfillment can and should be discarded. Greatness of the self is our culture’s meaning and purpose of life.
In our passage today, we find the enigmatic scribe Baruch saddened and disappointed by the inevitable and impending judgment upon Israel. It seems that Baruch saw this as an opportunity to find greatness. Perhaps he envisioned himself as Israel’s savior, who could save them from being decimated by foreign nations. Although this might sound noble and heroic, verse 5 suggests that this desire did not stem from some righteous devotion to his people, but it was out of a personal aspiration for greatness. And this blinded him from seeing that judgment was part of God’s inevitable plan, and that the proper response was to surrender himself to the plans of God. In the midst of impending tragedy, Baruch only saw an opportunity for his own greatness.
In a culture where the self has been exalted to divine heights, it is easy to be blinded by our pursuit of self-actualization. Even the church is often used to give us what we need so that we can find the energy and inspiration to continue looking for our own definition of greatness. It is so easy to be absorbed into this way of life. Social and cultural pressures to live in this manner are difficult to fend off. However, we must look to the cross of Jesus Christ to define what it means to be great. It is the path of self-denial rather than self-exaltation. Let us surrender ourselves to God and find our greatness in what He has done for us rather than what we can do for ourselves.
Prayer: Father, help me to follow Your example of greatness that I saw demonstrated on the cross. It is so easy to be tempted to live in the same way as the world, but help me by the power of Your Spirit, to live a life of self-denial and surrender. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 1 Kings 21
Lunch Break Study
Read Philippians 2:1-11: 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. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Questions to Consider
- What is Paul’s main command in this passage?
- What is the mind of Christ that Paul wants the Philippians to have?
- What is one area in your life where there is a desperate need for humility?
- Paul desires the Philippians to “do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” It seems that even in the 1st century, selfish ambition was a problem that needed to be dealt with in the church.
- The mind of Christ is one of humility that expresses itself in counting others more significant. In the second half of the passage, Paul details how Christ humbled Himself and emptied Himself by taking the form of a servant and taking on human flesh. However, His humility did not stop there; He chose to lower himself even more by dying even on the cross, which was full of shame. And it’s precisely because He chose self-denial that God exalted Him to greatness! This is the path we must also imitate.
- Go ahead and humble yourself with respect to the area where you need it the most, and then see how that changes things—beginning with your own heart. 😉
What are some ways that you are pursuing after greatness for yourself? What areas of your life are marked by selfish ambition? Take some time to reflect and ask God to help you surrender those areas of your life to Him.