REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on April 23, 2014, is prepared by Pastor Jason Sato who is currently serving in Japan as a missionary. Jason is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.).
Devotional Thoughts for This Morning
“What is the Difference Between a Salesman and a Friend?
Galatians 5:13-15 (ESV)
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.  For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.”
I remember having a humorous conversation with one of the AMI pastors about one of his disciples. He spoke of how proud he was of the work his disciple was doing, adding at the end, “But every time he does something well, I give him a hard time a little later…just to keep him on his toes.”
While this pastor was just joking around, we all have a suspicion in the back of our minds that everyone needs a healthy dose of fear to keep them in line. As the apostle Paul continues to exhort the Galatians to embrace faith and reject circumcision, he faces an inevitable question: If salvation is by faith and there is no fear of punishment, why would anyone live a righteous life or serve others?
This line of thinking assumes that grace frees us to be even more self-absorbed than ever before. But Paul encourages the Galatians to use their freedom to serve one another, not “as an opportunity for the flesh” (v. 13). Surprisingly, freedom from earning God’s approval by the law actually frees us, not to love ourselves, but to love our neighbors as ourselves.
What’s the difference between a phone salesman and a friend giving you advice about which phone to purchase? Both could be friendly, informative, and helpful. Sometimes a salesman is nicer to us than our friends are! But the salesman is giving advice with his own self-interest in mind, while a friend receives nothing from your purchase. The friend is giving you advice with your best interests in mind, not his own.
In a similar way, serving and loving our neighbor in order to earn God’s love ultimately places our own self-interest at the center. Our own benefit and reputation is still the motivating factor. These kinds of self-centered acts of “love” ultimately bear the fruit of self-righteousness, division, betrayal, and hurt.
Do you find yourself using your freedom to indulge in sin? Do you find yourself trying to gain your freedom by “loving” your neighbor? Ask the Lord to pour out His grace that you would be set free to love Jesus and your neighbor selflessly.
Prayer Father, I thank You that You have loved me freely and poured out Your grace though I was Your enemy. I thank You that I no longer have to compare and outdo others to try to earn Your affection. Give me grace to live in this freedom, free to love others as You have loved me.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 51
Lunch Break Study
Read Luke 14:12-14 (ESV): “He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid.  But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,  and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.””
Questions to Consider
- Who do we normally invite to our homes and why?
- Who does Jesus instruct us to invite? What would that look like in your life?
- Who will repay those who invite the poor and crippled into their homes?
- We usually invite our friends and relatives or people who can benefit us in some way. We invite such people because we can enjoy a reciprocal love (one that pays back) with them.
- Jesus instructs us to invite those who are different from us and those who cannot pay us back. Answers may vary, but a few examples could include inviting over a poor college student, someone who has very few friends because of awkwardness or even rudeness, or the homeless person who wanders into our church.
- Jesus will reward us at the resurrection of the just. Often, when we invite over our friends and family, they reward us and we have no reward for such actions from Christ.
Reflect on your day. What opportunities did you have to give selfless love to another person? Did you take those opportunities? Take a moment to thank God and/or to repent and receive the selfless love of God for you.