REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on January 27, 2014.
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“Let’s Pretend that He Stole $20 from Me as Well”
“If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self.”
Tony was livid; someone had stolen $40 from his locker. Though this young Christian saw it as a very bad day, I saw an opportunity to teach him two valuable lessons. So I said to him, “I will give you $20, and let’s pretend that this guy stole $20 from you and me each. Then, I’ll have the same reason to be upset at the thief as you do, right?” Somewhat following my logic, he responded, “Yeah,” at which point I said, “But I forgive him. And I will pray that this guy, feeling bad about his misdeed, seeks God’s forgiveness.” After some 25 years, I still think that $20 was worth the investment to impress a valuable lesson on this young believer’s heart.
Now, the difference between my story and Paul’s is that the apostle is covering for the thief. In Les Misērable, Valjean steals the Bishop’s silverware; Onesimus, I am sure, pilfered things just as valuable. In the novel, this Bishop covers for Valjean, now under police custody, by pretending that the valuables were given to him. Perhaps, the author Victor Hugo was inspired by what Paul does here for Onesimus: “Whatever he stole, ‘charge it to me . . ., I will pay it back.” In so doing, the apostle “covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8) of a runaway slave, who “became [his] son while [he] was in chains” (Philem. 1:10).
That realization, then, leads to the second lesson: seeing a glimpse of the substitionary death of Christ who, having no sin, took on ours to pay for its penalty, instead of us. I partially took the loss of the young man and paid for it with my money; Paul was willing to take the entire blame for what Onesimus did and pay for it with his own money as well. That’s as closest as we can get to what Christ actually did for us, “so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).
Cover for someone today; afterwards, tell that person how Jesus has done the same for all of us.
Prayer: Father, while I’m thankful for what You have done for me, I often find that I am not living the life that I should be living. I hoard rather than share; hold grudges than forgive; condemn than accept. Forgive me, but at the same, jolt me to action so that I would share, forgive, and accept, just as Christ did for me. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 28
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Samuel 20:30-4: “Saul’s anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, ‘You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don’t I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you? 31 As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send someone to bring him to me, for he must die!’ 32 ‘Why should he be put to death? What has he done?’ Jonathan asked his father. 33 But Saul hurled his spear at him to kill him. Then Jonathan knew that his father intended to kill David. 34 Jonathan got up from the table in fierce anger; on that second day of the feast he did not eat, because he was grieved at his father’s shameful treatment of David.”
Questions to Consider
- Actually, what Jonathan did for his friend David, an outlaw to his father, is similar to what Paul did for Onesimus. What binds these men together?
- What’s involved when a friend tries to cover for an innocent person (David) or someone who needs an opportunity for redemption (Onesimus)?
- How would David and Onesimus have felt being on the recipient end of this kind of love? Have you ever experienced it?
- Both were covering for the people whom they loved. Instead of being indifferent or uncaring, they went out of their ways to ensure that they were not harmed.
- Such kind of friendship or relationship does not materialize without the willingness to pay the cost on behalf of the other person. Paul was willing to lose a significant amount of money; Jonathan was willing to lose his life. Thus, Jesus said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” After saying that, Christ would soon put that into practice.
- They would have felt a sense of gratitude and also determination to prove to their benefactors that they did not make a mistake by vouching for them. It would be an added incentive to do right.
Did you have a blessed day? Maybe it wasn’t so great. At least, you can go to sleep knowing that nothing really changed: God still loves you, Jesus’ death still forgives you, and tomorrow, the Lord willing, you will have another opportunity to make a difference for God’s kingdom. Journal it before turning in.