NEW Today’s AMI QT Devotional is provided by Pastor Shan Gian who is the Fenway Site pastor at Symphony Church in Boston. Shan is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Gordon Conwell Seminary (M.Div.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
For all of us, at one time or another, we encounter someone that rubs us the wrong way for whatever reason. Maybe it’s how they talk or the views they have. I remember hearing someone complain to me about how loudly his roommate chewed his food and how that drove him crazy. Whether it’s petty pet peeves or stark and serious differences in personality or ideology, we can easily find ourselves irked by others.
When we are faced with such people, what do we do? Many of us tend towards avoidance. We see that particular person when we walk into a gathering and then we go towards the other side of the room. Or if we get a text from them, we respond curtly. Or, even if we can push ourselves to not avoid, we likely just bear with it. Deal with it. Grit our teeth and suffer through our annoyances.
St. Thérèse, a French Catholic nun in the 19th Century, shows us that these kinds of differences can even happen in a convent. In her autobiography, she shared about a fellow nun who would irritate her in whatever she did or said. But instead of avoiding her sister or gritting her teeth through it, this is what St. Thérèse said, “I set myself to do for this sister just what I should have done for someone I loved most dearly. Every time I met her, I prayed for her and offered God all her virtues and her merits. I was sure this would greatly delight Jesus, for every artist likes to have his works praised and the divine Artist of souls is pleased when we do not halt outside the exterior of the sanctuary where He has chosen to dwell but go inside and admire its beauty.”
What if this was our heart and attitude towards every person we encounter, especially those we find it hard to love or get along with? Even the most irritating or infuriating person is the artwork of our Divine Artist, Jesus, and with each of His masterpieces, Jesus wants us to see and to admire their beauty.
Let us seek to have this kind of heart for our brothers, sisters and neighbors today. If there’s someone in particular who you find it hard to love or get along with, set your heart to love them as someone you love most dearly. Let bring delight to our Divine Artist by loving those He has beautifully created.
Prayer: Jesus, remind us today of your patient and enduring love for us. Show us how we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and help us to see the beauty of your creation in others around us. Especially with those with whom we find it hard to love, may we set our hearts to loving them as you love them. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 1 Corinthians 9
Lunch Bible Study
Read Acts 9:10-19: Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 17 So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; 19 and taking food, he was strengthened.
Questions to Consider
- What reasons does Ananias have for not going to Saul?
- What moves Ananias to go to Saul?
- What happens as a result of Ananias’ ministry to Saul? What can happen if we love those we find it hard to love?
- In verse 13, Ananias said that he had heard of Saul and about “how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem.” As a disciple of Jesus, Ananias in his mind thought that going to Saul at this point in time would be putting his own life at risk. For Ananias, it could have felt like a suicide mission.
- Ananias ultimately goes because God tells him to go. Going a little deeper than that though, God tells Ananias that Saul would be His chosen instrument to share the good news of Jesus to the Gentiles. In going to Saul, Ananias was trusting that Jesus was working in Saul’s heart and life. Note that in verse 17, Ananias doesn’t just call him Saul, he says “Brother Saul”
- In the short term, Saul is healed from his blindness and is baptized, but in the bigger picture, Saul would go on to be Apostle Paul who planted churches and wrote half of the books of the New Testament. Let us consider the impact our love for our neighbors can have!
More than ever with social distancing and quarantining and virtual relationships, it is easy for us to avoid being in relationship with people who we find it hard to love. Consider again if there’s someone that Jesus is calling you to love and bless. Pray for a heart of love and compassion and also pray for your actions towards them to reflect Jesus’ love for them.