Devotional Thoughts for This Morning
But the king of Egypt said to them, “Moses and Aaron, why do you take the people away from their work? Get back to your burdens.” 5 And Pharaoh said, “Behold, the people of the land are now many, and you make them rest from their burdens!” 6 The same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their foremen, 7 “You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as in the past; let them go and gather straw for themselves. 8 But the number of bricks that they made in the past you shall impose on them, you shall by no means reduce it, for they are idle. Therefore they cry, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.’ 9 Let heavier work be laid on the men that they may labor at it and pay no regard to lying words.”
In yesterday’s passage, we saw Moses and Aaron approach Pharaoh and appeal to him for freedom for the Israelite people. In today’s passage, what is Pharaoh’s response? A very clear and resounding NO. Not only does he say no to them, he’s so insulted by their request that, being full of spite, he demands that the Israelites make bricks without straw (a necessary component of straw making), while expecting the same production. Because Pharaoh doesn’t like how he’s been confronted, he responds with spite and anger.
Spite is destructive path to go down. When we act out of spite, people suffer, especially ourselves. So, when we find ourselves caught in a downward spiral of anger and bitterness, people around us are forced to deal with the consequences. Proverbs 29:22 says, “A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression.” And I think we can all recognize that when we respond with anger and spite, like Pharaoh does in Exodus, it causes much strife and leads us down to darker places.
At the same time, we should recognize how we can easily fall prey to the temptations of spiteful anger. Think about how you’ve responded in the past month when someone cut you off while driving on the highway, or when you’ve received really poor customer service at a restaurant, or when your roommate didn’t do the dishes, again. Did you reply with joy and peace in your heart? Think about the last time someone challenged you about doing a poor job in something or when someone close to you rebuked you. Did you immediately thank God for that person? I’m guessing for the overwhelming majority of us the answer to these questions is a clear and resounding no. The truth is that we’re not that different from Pharaoh.
The good news for us is that we have a savior. The only way our hearts can move from spite and anger towards love and grace is through Jesus. In the gospels, Jesus was confronted, challenged, tested and rebuked many times and even when he was being treated like a criminal and was sentenced to execution on the cross for sins he never committed, Jesus did not respond in spiteful anger, but instead he lived out of love and grace.
Today we will likely encounter people or circumstances that will tempt us to act out of spiteful anger. As we face those moments, let us look to our savior and follow his example.
Prayer: Jesus, I pray for strength to face all of the difficulties that today may bring. Thank You for Your example of love and grace. By the power of Your spirit, help me to act and respond with love towards all. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 7
Lunch Break Study
Read Colossians 3:12-15: Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
Questions to Consider
- What is the foundation of acting in love towards one another in this passage?
- How do you act when you have a “complaint” against another person? How can we practically strive to be more gracious towards others?
- What does it look like when the church is acting in love towards one another?
- The foundation is the forgiveness of Jesus in our lives. When we recognize the depth of our sin that Jesus has so graciously forgiven, it should lead us to act in grace and love towards one another.
- Personal reflection question. We must first start with remembering the grace of Jesus in our lives. Also, Paul’s command is to “put on” compassion, kindness, humility, etc.; we must actively, even against the cries of our own flesh, push ourselves to respond in love and grace instead of bitterness and anger. Finally Matthew 18:15 tells us to lovingly confront one another.
- Paul points us to “perfect harmony” and peace.
Did you face any challenging circumstances today where you were tempted to respond with spite? How well or poorly did you respond? No matter how good or bad we are at this, we thankfully are assured of the love of Jesus. Spend a few minutes reflecting on Jesus’ love and forgiveness in your life to close out the night.