REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Barry Kang who heads Symphony Church in Boston, is an updated version of his blog first posted on April 24, 2013. He is a graduate of Stanford University (BA), Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (D.Min.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“Don’t Pity the Weak but Have Consideration for Them”
Psalm: 41:1-3 (NIV)
Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble. 2 The Lord will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes. 3 The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from his bed of illness.
In Psalm 40:1 is found an explicit promise of blessing that we would do well to heed: God blesses us when we have a caring and loving heart towards the “weak”. The weak here is a broad term that includes those who have less in financial, physical, or spiritual sense.
How do we receive this blessing? The word I want to focus on this morning is “regard”. The ESV translates this word as “considers,” which accentuates the active and persistent nature of regarding someone. There is a difference between wanting to care for the poor, the lost and the broken as opposed to having a regard or consideration for them. It is the difference between sporadically reacting in compassion to help those who are weak, and pro-actively seeking to serve the weak in the manner that God loves and considers us.
In my experience, one main reason we are not more actively ministering to the weak is because we spend too much time thinking about our own needs and wants; as a result, we rarely consider the needs of those around us. Our eyes may see them but our hearts don’t really “look” at them (i.e., regard or consider them). So when those who need our ministry are out of sight, they are usually out of our mind. Therefore, let us open our eyes, minds and hearts to those whom God desires to bless through us!
Are you pro-actively considering the needs of those around you? Our model in this, of course, is Jesus who came for sinners, not the righteous (Mark 2:17). Today, let us shift our focus away from ourselves and place it on those whom God desires to bless through us.
Prayer: Father, I confess that I am quite capable of focusing on myself and my own needs through the entirety of the day. I pray that today (and the days following) would be different. Help me to actively engage my prayers, thoughts, emotions and actions upon those whom You desire for me to serve. I thank You that in doing this, I am in a small way reflecting Your heart of love and compassion towards me. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Acts 11
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Corinthians 8:9-13 (NIV): Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, won’t he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.
Questions to Consider
- Read 1 Corinthians 8:1-8. What is the context of this passage above?
- What arguments does Paul use to persuade the “strong” person to restrict his/her freedom voluntarily?
- What does it take to be a “strong” person? (c.f. Romans 15:1-2)
- The primary issue here is that of Christian freedom. The church in Corinth faced a dilemma. Was it permissible for Christians to eat meat sacrificed to idols, knowing that those idols are “nothing at all in the world”? Paul agreed with the Christians who thought eating such meat was permissible. But knowing that there was a group of Christians who thought eating such meat was wrong, he asked the “stronger” Christians to refrain.
- Paul offers three main arguments:
- A strong Christian’s freedom can become a stumbling block to the weak Christian, causing his faith to weaken rather than grow. In verse 10, Paul notes a scenario where a weak Christian eats food sacrificed to idols not in faith, but merely by seeing the example of another Christian.
- We must always see our fellow Christians as the brother or sister for whom Christ died. We must discipline ourselves to avoid anything by which this person might be “destroyed” (verse 11).
- When we sin against our brother or sister in this way, we in fact “sin against Christ” (verse 12).
- In Romans 15:1, Paul tells us that one characteristic of strong Christians is to “bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves”. That last phrase “not to please ourselves” is the key. Such an attitude goes against the grain, which is nurtured on a notion of “my rights”. Strong Christians do not insist upon their own rights but are amenable to restrict themselves for the sake of others. This is the true Christian freedom.
Additional Note: It seems very burdensome to have to sacrifice one’s freedom and rights for others. While we don’t normally confront the issue of food sacrificed to idols in America, the principle here is still very applicable to us. In order that others may grow in faith, are we willing to restrict ourselves in areas such as, our lifestyle, drinking alcohol, the cars that we drive, etc? Regardless whether we are able to justify our choices theologically (e.g., “Drinking in moderation is okay”), the bigger question is whether we are considering those who are weaker (for instance, someone who grew up believing that any kind of drinking is sinful, or someone who used to drink but hasn’t done so in awhile because of his faith)? Do we consider our time, habits, ambitions, and lifestyles so sacrosanct that we are unwilling to make any changes for the sake of others? Or are we willing to give up on certain things so that others may grow in faith?
What has God been saying to you today about your lifestyle? Are there any changes that you ought to consider out of consideration for those whom you desire to encourage in faith? Let us process through these considerations in our journals.