April 5, Monday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on January 23, 2014.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“You Owe Me”

Philem. 1:14

“But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced.”

“I would do anything for my wheelchair bound friend,” said the man. When asked, “Why?” he responded, “My buddy broke his back while saving my life.”  But that was when he was a single; being married now with children, answering his friend’s call for help feels like a great burden.  What would the wheelchair bound friend say?

While Paul appealed to Philemon’s softer side to treat Onesimus kindly, a runaway slave who stole from him, the apostle did remind Philemon this: “You owe me your very self” (Phile. 1:19).  I heard a preacher say we shouldn’t do that; perhaps so, but sometimes an ungrateful person should be reminded of the favor that was granted him, lest he becomes conceited and difficult to live with.   

Look no further than the Israelites, who, on their way to the Promised Land complained to God at every turn whenever they felt hungry or thirsty.  They even conjured up a past life in Egypt that they, as slaves, rarely, if ever, experienced, saying, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic” (Num. 11:4-5).  Responding to this lunacy, Moses said, “Is this the way to repay the LORD, O foolish and unwise people?” (Deut. 32:6).

No, we shouldn’t use the “You owe me” line too often to get others to do for us a personal favor.   However, when the matter at hand is truly God’s work, then gently remind the unwilling person how Christ died so that he might live.  When the ungrateful heart of a friend or family member is diminishing her character and relationships, then gently remind her of all that was provided to give her opportunities to be successful.    Then say, “I don’t want anything from you but you should do the same for those who are where you used to be.”  That, in essence, is what Paul told Philemon: “You were once a runaway sinner from God but He forgave you; you should forgive and accept your runaway slave as well.” 

 How about you?  Is there anything you should do for someone in need to whom you owe?

Prayer: Dear God, I love You and I praise You for who You are.  Thank You for rescuing me from the pit of hell through Jesus Christ.  How can I repay You for what You did for me?  What little I can do and have, please use it to show the same love I have received from You to those who desperately need it.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 25


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 Pet. 5:1-4: “To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”

1 Cor. 11:1: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”

Questions to Consider

  1. In what sense is Peter’s approach or attitude similar to that of Paul in his dealing with Philemon?
  2. When we are trying to get people to do things for the church or for us (sometimes they appear same), what are some pitfalls that should be avoided?
  3. What’s the best way to lead?  Why was Paul able to appeal to Philemon the way the way he did?

Notes

  1. Both Paul and Peter, as pillars of the early church, could have used their authority to push their weight around to get what they wanted.  But they knew that any short-term gain would have been nullified by people’s resentment as well as stunting their own growth.  People grow when they are willingly to serve God, even at a cost, because they are motivated by their love for Him.     
  2. Merely using people to get what I want (even good things) but not really caring about what it will cost those who are asked to serve, or whether it will help them to grow as a person and servant. 
  3. The best way to lead is through setting worthy examples for people to follow.  Paul was able to appeal to Philemon because the latter knew about his sacrifices and commitment to serve the Lord.  When Mother Teresa used to speak, powerful men would listen because she had moral authority.

Evening Reflection

As you look back today, did you encounter a moment when you felt quite grateful and thankful to the Lord?  What happened?  Pray about someone in your life who can use a favor from you. 

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