Today’s AMI QT Devotional, written by Pastor Mark Chun (Radiance Christian Church, S. F.), was originally posted on March 17, 2014.
Devotional Thought for Today
“So Much Talk on Love, So Little the Evidence in the Church”
1 John 3:11-15 (ESV)
For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
Many Christians will testify to the importance of love. If you were to ask one hundred people in church how important love is, it is unlikely that a single person would deny its importance. Everybody knows, at least mentally, that love is the single most important virtue, and this is possibly the only thing that all of Christendom agrees on. It doesn’t matter if you come from a conservative or a charismatic church, whether you are Presbyterian or Baptist, all Christians agree that love is of the highest priority.
But even though there is this universal agreement on the importance of love, why is there so little of it in the church? This lack of love is something that we have seen in our church, and I am assuming that it’s a problem for many churches. There may be occasional moments of love, but most Christians would admit that there is still a longing in our hearts for more love in every area of our lives, including our relationships with other believers.
Sometimes, the most basic thing is the hardest thing to perfect. From the very outset of our faith, we are exhorted to love one another, but somehow envy, anger, and even division enters our fellowship. Perhaps the best way to overcome this lack of love is to understand the serious nature of the sins that are a natural outcome of not walking in love. John Stott once wrote, “Jealousy-hatred-murder is a natural and terrible sequence.” I have seen this sequence played out far too many times, because we forget how easy it is to fall naturally into the sin of Cain. No one is exempt. No one is free from these temptations, and this is why it is so vital to be reminded constantly of our call to love.
So today, make a concerted effort to love another.
Prayer: Father, help us to love one another, just as You have loved us through your Son. Forgive us for our lack of love and failure to carry one another’s burdens. If we struggle with negative emotions like anger, bitterness, or resentment, help us to work toward love and reconciliation. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 36
Lunch Break Study
While you read this passage, briefly reflect on the context in which Jesus is speaking.
Read Matthew 5:21-25: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison.
Questions to Consider
- According to Jesus, what is the punishment for the physical act of murder as compared to anger and contemptuous words?
- To what length should we go to reconcile a relationship with an offended Christian brother or sister?
- How should we handle disputes with our adversaries? Is there anyone you need to forgive or reconcile with?
- The shocking conclusion in verse 22 is that all three sins are equally in danger of the fire of hell. Words that we throw around commonly such as “stupid fool” reveal a deep contempt for human life that is equally as dangerous as murder.
- Since Jesus gave this sermon in Galilee, he is telling someone who has traveled close to eighty miles to bring his sacrifice to the temple in Jerusalem, to now go back and reconcile before giving his offering. This would equate to a round trip of 160 miles at a time when most people made the trip on foot or donkey!
- We should look to resolve conflicts as quickly as possible before it gets to serious.
In light of our theme, did you get angry or short with anyone today? Maybe someone who cut you off? Or you had an incident with a coworker, roommate, or family member? Review your day here and lift up a prayer, asking for forgiveness and reconciliation where possible.