September 8, Tuesday

UPDATED Today’s AMI QT Devotional, prepared by Pastor Jason Sato who is currently serving in Japan as a missionary, is an updated version of his blog first posted on April 28, 2014. Jason is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.). 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Doing Grace Better”

Galatians 6:1-5 (ESV) 

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. [2] Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. [3] For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. [4] But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. [5] For each will have to bear his own load.

If you ever happen to see me struggling to carry a heavy piece of furniture, please do NOT walk alongside me and critique my lifting posture.  Help me!

After detailing the fruit of the Spirit (the characteristics of a spiritual person), the apostle Paul encourages the Galatian Church to “bear one another’s burdens” (v. 2). Burdens can come in the form of worries, hardships, or even conflicts.  But here, Paul is referring to the burden of “transgression,” or the burden of sin (v. 1). The burden of sin includes guilt, shame, alienation from others, and ultimately estrangement from God. God calls us to set our brothers and sisters free from such burdens.

Do we love our brothers and sisters enough to confront areas of sin in their lives? If we do, do we remind them of the grace of God and offer to strive alongside them or just berate them? 

More often than we’d like to admit, our brother’s sin becomes an opportunity for us to love ourselves rather than love him. We begin to compare and think we are something (v. 3). We boast about ourselves in light of our brother, conveniently forgetting how we compare to the perfect holiness of God (v. 4). 

But such boasting will be cut short when we stand before the judgment seat of God (v. 5). Before God, there is only one thing we can boast in: the perfect righteousness of Christ. And so, knowing the wickedness and deceitfulness of our own hearts, we can come to our brother with a spirit of gentleness. Rather than demanding he try harder or do better, we can point him to the Savior who died for sinners.  

And as we offer free and full reconciliation purchased by the blood of Christ, we are blessed to remember that that same grace and forgiveness is offered to us as well.  Philip Yancey writes in his What’s So Amazing About Grace? (1997), “The world can do anything the church can do except one thing: it cannot show grace. In my opinion, Christians are not doing a very good job of dispensing grace to the world.”  Let’s do grace better today.   

Prayer: Father, I thank You for my brothers and sisters. I am blessed to be a part of this family. Lord, give me supernatural love that reaches out to those who are trapped in sin. May I not rejoice in the failures of others, but plead for Your grace to be poured out on them and on myself. You alone can save. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Chronicles 2


Lunch Break Study  

Read Matthew 23:4 & 11:28-30 (ESV): “[The scribes and Pharisees] tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger . . . [28] Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. [29] Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. [30] For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Contrast the implied invitation of the scribes and Pharisees with that of Jesus in 11:28.
  2. Contrast the result of the Pharisee’s ministry with that of Jesus’ ministry.
  3. Contrast what the Pharisees were willing to do for their disciples with what Jesus has done for His.

Notes

  1. The scribes and Pharisees invite their hearers to follow rules and carry heavy burdens. While Jesus is concerned about ethics, He invites us to Himself. Jesus invites us to have a personal relationship with Him.
  2. The Pharisees’ ministry results in burdensome weariness. The ministry of Jesus results in rest for our souls.
  3. The Pharisees were unwilling to help their disciples with their finger. Their disciples were left to deal with their burdens alone. Christ died for His disciples. His perfect life, death, and resurrection accomplished everything we need for complete redemption and restoration to the Father.

Evening Reflection

Reflect on your day. What opportunities were you given to encourage a brother or sister with the Gospel? How were you tempted to favorably compare yourself to others? Invite the Lord to humble you and cause you to boast only in Christ.

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