REPOST Today’s AMI Devotional Quiet Time, provided by Christine Li, was first posted on May 27, 2015. Christine, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, serves as a deaconess at Remnant Church in Manhattan, New York.
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“Tough, Loving Words”
2 Samuel 19: 7-8
“Now go out and encourage your men. I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall. This will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come on you from your youth till now.”So the king got up and took his seat in the gateway. When the men were told, “The king is sitting in the gateway,” they all came before him. Meanwhile, the Israelites had fled to their homes.
Prov. 12:1b, 27:5
He who hates reproof is stupid . . . Better is open rebuke than hidden love.
Yesterday, we looked at this passage with the focus on King David’s willingness to accepting rebuke. Today, we will talk briefly about delivering rebuke (a touchy subject!). Though Joab spoke harshly, his bold statements against King David were not driven by a desire to elevate himself or a desire to tear down the King. He brings up the reasons for his harsh words: the feelings of the people who had been dedicated to David, and David’s safety. (By the way, Joab didn’t always act this caring toward David.)
In our modern church, we rarely engage in rebuke. While some hesitation is borne out of wise caution (because we have seen abuse), most of us demure out of an attempt to appear tolerant and understanding. We are content to live and let live because this method saves us the time, work, and heartache of being intimately involved with someone else’s life.
The Bible frequently mentions the task of believers to teach and admonish one another in the setting of the church (Rom. 15, Col. 3, 1 Thess. 5). However, I believe we rarely model this Biblical principle because of two reasons: (1) We do not care deeply enough about our brothers and sisters to speak into their lives, (2) We do not care enough about God’s standard of holiness for the church. Without aspiration to be pure, holy, and set apart from this world as He commands, we neglect true accountability and candidness in our relationships.
I am not suggesting that we suddenly go around and bring up every last thing we might dislike about the people around us. The purpose is to exhort the believers around us to turn away from anything that leads away from God towards fullness of life. Rebuke should be humbly, wisely, and lovingly administered; when well-delivered and well-accepted, it is life-giving and an immense blessing (Proverbs 15:31, Psalm 141:5).
If you are very uncomfortable with the idea of offering correction, do not worry. Ask God to give you wisdom and also love for members of your community so that you can also be used as His instrument. And if you have a reputation for being harsh, now is the time to ask God for greater compassion and humility in approaching others. A house divided against itself cannot stand, but if the community is devoted to loving God and become more like Christ, teaching and submitting to one another will bring us joy.
Prayer: Father, give me greater love for You and greater love for others. Let Your holiness be the bar I aspire to and also what I desire for others. Do not let any fear of man or lack of confidence keep me from speaking openly and honestly to those around me. May Your wisdom and a desire to bless others guide the words we speak to one another. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: John 3
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13: If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful. 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Questions to Consider
1. Why is love an important component to the tasks mentioned in v. 1-3?
2. Why does Paul deliberately place v.9-12 within this section on love?
3. Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” How can we really live up to exhibiting these qualities of love in our lives as a testimony of our faith?
1. Speaking, fathoming, acting, and showing compassion do not require love to be done. Because love protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres, without it, we will quickly lose our purpose and motivations for these actions.
2. While we can learn many attributes of love from the first seven verses or even believe that we exemplify them, our understanding of love will not be truly complete until we experience the fullness of God in heaven.
3. Take some time to reflect on your life and how you can demonstrate the love of Christ more.
Were there any moments today when you should have spoken up but felt unable to? What held you back? One prerequisite before correcting anyone is whether we have been praying for the individual? If you feel like you have something to say, please pray for a while before doing so.