December 21, Friday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional is written by Joshua Chzen who serves as the college pastor at Kairos Christian Church (San Diego, California). Joshua, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity at Bethel Seminary. He and Sandra were recently married in 2017.  

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Self-Less Love”

Ephesians 5:22-27

“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”

My wife Sandra and I celebrated our first anniversary last month. Upon reflecting on the past year, I thought I had been doing my best to love my wife. I would go out of my way to take care of chores and errands knowing that my schedule had more flexibility than hers. I learned to adjust my expectations of my wife considering her busy season of balancing ministry, school and work. The past year has been fun, but not without struggles and disagreements—much of which stemming from my self-centeredness.   

Christ’s love is selfless. Not once did he struggle to consider the needs of those whom God called into His service. He gave himself up completely so that his church could be redeemed into something radiant, holy and righteous. It was with a complete regard for the well-being of his people that Jesus completely disregarded his own well-being, suffering and dying on the cross. In this passage, Paul calls on the married men in the Ephesian church to love their wives in that same way—to love those God has called them to love, with complete selflessness, so that they might be built up in holiness and righteousness.

I thought I had been doing a good job of loving my wife; nevertheless, being married for a year has revealed to me how natural it is for me to consider my needs first. Even though I’ve grown in my tendency to think about my wife’s perspective, desires and needs, I’m still infinitely far away from the bar of selfless love that Jesus sets. It’s only through being filled with that love, through the Holy Spirit, that I can hope to do an adequate job of giving that same love to my wife.

Although Paul directs this passage at husbands and wives specifically, we know that as Christians our call is to extend this Christlike love to everyone around us (Matt. 22:39), even our enemies (Luke 6:27). There are likely people we’ll be seeing during the Christmas season who we know we’re supposed to love. We may feel like we’re doing an adequate job of loving them already. Or we may not want to love them at all. Regardless, let’s take the time to ask for the love of Christ to fill us and the Holy Spirit to transform us, so that the conversations, interactions, and thoughts we have will radiate the love of Christ to our friends and family (as well as neighbors and enemies!).

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the selfless love you demonstrated when you gave yourself up completely for our sins. Sometimes I take that love for granted, but I pray that you would remind me specifically of the people in my life I know you’ve called me to give that same love to. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and change my heart so that I can demonstrate that same selfless love. In Jesus name, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Proverbs 23


Lunch Break Study

Read John 15:9-17 (NIV):

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

Questions to Consider

  1. What does Jesus say about keeping his commands?
  2. What is Jesus’ command?
  3. Whose love does Jesus demonstrate?

Notes

  1. If we keep Jesus’ commands, not only will we remain in his love, but he will call us friends instead of servants.
  2. Jesus’ command is to love each other, which he reiterates twice in this passage. He gives more details the first time: we are to love each other as he loved us, exemplified in laying down one’s life for one’s friends.
  3. Jesus himself refers to being loved by the Father as his model for loving us. Ultimately, in demonstrating the love of Christ, we also demonstrate the love of the Father.

Evening Reflection

Ask God who (specifically) He’s challenging you to love during this Christmas season. Spend some time reflecting on your heart toward this person and pray that the Holy Spirit would fill your heart with more of the love of Christ to soften, restore, and radiate this same love.

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