NEW Today’s AMI QT Devotional is provided by Phillip Chen who is associate pastor at Kairos Christian Church in San Diego. Phil is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“The Third-Option Amid Divisive Times”
Romans 12:10 (NIV)
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
“We live in divisive times.”
I’ve heard this statement far more times this year than I can count. Certainly, there is a lot of division and I don’t anticipate it to decrease but rather increase as the year progresses. Unfortunately, we’ve seen that the Church is not exempt from this divisiveness despite Jesus interceding for the Church in the High Priestly Prayer (John 17), in which he petitions the Father that the Church would be one. Of course, unity does not mean conformity in thought nor does it mean agreement in all things; but perhaps Romans 12:10 gives us a directive on how we can still come together in unity.
The biblical directive in this verse is devotion in the ways we love one another and preference towards others by the way we show honor. This is a difficult task, particularly with those with whom we disagree. It gets more difficult in the climate we are in with heightened anger, fear and disillusionment. But the Church must find a way to uphold this directive. We are in desperate need of peacemakers and bridge-builders in this hour.
Pastor Miles McPherson, his book The Third Option: Hope for a Racially Divided Nation, says “God’s Third Option invites us to honor that which we have in common, the presence of His image in every person we meet. When we honor the presence of His image in others, we acknowledge their priceless value as precious and beloved of God. The Third Option empowers us to see people through God’s eyes, which enables us to treat them in a manner that honors the potential of His image in us.” This is to say, when we choose to honor others (especially those with whom we disagree), we are asking God for the ability to see people through God’s eyes.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks to this command, to love and honor others, is the spirit of offense. Offense is the biggest hindrance to honor. When someone offends us, all we can focus is their shortcomings and faults to the point that we leave no room for honor. One of my friends put it this way: “Offense kills our ability to love. You can’t love someone with whom you are offended, which is why we are commanded by God to prioritize reconciliation, forgive those who wrong us, and love our enemies. Being easily offended is a sign of immaturity and lack of character.”
I find this to be true in my life. Whenever I am offended, my temptation and tendency is to become defensive and reject anything and everything that comes out of that person. I speak out against the spirit of offense because I have seen its deceptive and destructive ways in my own life as well as the lives of many in this country.
Brothers and Sisters, we are going to see and hear more things that are offensive and repulsive to us in so many ways. We will be tempted to hold onto offense and either lash out or hold onto unforgiveness. The spirit of offense is one of Satan’s greatest tactics to divide the Church. Let’s recognize the ways of the enemy and stand against it. When we struggle, let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us to be devoted to one another in love and to give honor to others. It’s definitely not easy, but may the Holy Spirit empower us to “walk with humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3).
Prayer: Father, help us to be devoted to one another in love. Help us to honor one another before ourselves. We need the power of your Holy Spirit. Come and change us and revive our hearts. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 1 Corinthians 1
Lunch Break Study
Read Ephesians 4:1-7 (ESV): I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
Question to Consider
- What characteristics in this passage are we encouraged to emulate?
- In what way does this Unity look like?
- How can I promote unity within my local church body or even the local churches within my city?
- Paul encourages the believers to be humble, gentle, patient, and bearing with one another in love. We also see an emphasis to maintain unity. Paul encourages us to be “eager” to maintain the unity of the Spirit. Particularly towards the Body of Christ, we are to desire unity.
- Unity does not necessarily mean that all churches should become one, but rather than we remember the one Lord that we are called under. We remember the one Father God who is over all, through all, and in all. We are united under the banner of Christ.
- Personal Response.
Think about anyone toward whom you may have bitterness and unforgiveness. Take a moment and bring them before God and ask for the courage to forgive. Even if the feelings of forgiveness are not fully there yet, it is a declaration to God that you have surrendered the right to condemn them in your heart. Pray a prayer of blessing upon them and ask God for peace. May God continue to cleanse our hearts and make us whole.