REPOSTToday’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on June 9, 2015, is provided by Phillip Chen who is associate pastor at Kairos Christian Church in San Diego. Phil is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“The Abuse of Mercy and Grace”
1 Kings 2:36-46 (ESV)
Then the king sent and summoned Shimei and said to him, “Build yourself a house in Jerusalem and dwell there, and do not go out from there to any place whatever. For on the day you go out and cross the brook Kidron, know for certain that you shall die. Your blood shall be on your own head.” And Shimei said to the king, “What you say is good; as my lord the king has said, so will your servant do.” So Shimei lived in Jerusalem many days. But it happened at the end of three years that two of Shimei’s servants ran away to Achish, son of Maacah, king of Gath. And when it was told Shimei, “Behold, your servants are in Gath,” Shimei arose and saddled a donkey and went to Gath to Achish to seek his servants. Shimei went and brought his servants from Gath. And when Solomon was told that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath and returned, the king sent and summoned Shimei and said to him, “Did I not make you swear by the Lord and solemnly warn you, saying, ‘Know for certain that on the day you go out and go to any place whatever, you shall die’? And you said to me, ‘What you say is good; I will obey.’ Why then have you not kept your oath to the Lord and the commandment with which I commanded you?” The king also said to Shimei, “You know in your own heart all the harm that you did to David my father. So the Lord will bring back your harm on your own head. But King Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the Lord forever.” Then the king commanded Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and he went out and struck him down, and he died. So the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon.
To understand this text, we must understand the context behind the character of Shimei a little better. Shimei was from the family of Saul and it was customary at the time for the descendants of the previous king to be put to death to ensure the reign of the current king. Technically, Shimei should have been executed, but David showed him mercy. When David and his men were fleeing Jerusalem because of Absalom’s attempt to replace him as king, we see Shimei following them, mocking and cursing him. Some of David’s mighty men wanted to kill him for the violence and curses towards them, but again David shows mercy. As David returned to Jerusalem triumphant over Absalom, Shimei asks for mercy, which David grants. When Solomon succeeds David, he is confronted with what to do with Shimei and again Shimei is shown mercy. In this passage, he designates Jerusalem as a city of refuge for Shimei, but if Shimei were to leave the city, he would be subject to death. Shimei ends up leaving Jerusalem for petty reasons and flippantly disregards what Solomon has told him which results in his death.
As we look at the storyline of Shimei, many of us would look at this man and think of how foolish he is to constantly take advantage of the mercy of the king. But are we really that different? One of the worst behaviors within the church is the abuse of the mercy and grace of God. In fact, one of the biggest lies floating around the church is that we can do whatever we want with no consequence, since Jesus has paid for all of our past, present, and future sins. But that is simply not true. Though we are shown grace and the eternal consequence of sin has been paid in full, it does not mean there are no temporal consequences for sin nor does it mean that our God does not discipline us.
Shimei had blatant disregard for the mercy that was shown to him and was under the impression that there would be no consequences for his sin against the king. Perhaps we need to also be reminded of the severity of sin and repent so that we might not fall into this false thinking. May we be wiser than Shimei and approach God with humility and reverence, confident that we are forgiven by his grace, but having a healthy fear of the temporal and eternal consequences of sin.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for your mercy towards us again and again. Thank you that your work on the cross was sufficient for all of our sins. Though we fail again and again, we pray that we would hold that healthy tension of confidence in your grace, but a fear of the severity of sin. May we never take your grace for granted, for we are a people that are bought with a price. May we grow in humility, reverence, and awe of who you are. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Romans 3
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 John 1:5-10 (ESV): This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Question to Consider
1. What is John warning against?
2. What is the difference between walking in darkness and walking in light?
3. If Jesus has cleansed us from all sin, how come we can’t say we have no sin?
1. He is warning against Gnosticism (the idea that as long as you have the “secret knowledge” you are saved). There is still modern day theology that follows the same train of thought that we must be weary of (say a prayer once and do whatever you want for the rest of your life).
2. John warns against living a lifestyle of sin versus sinning (because of our sin nature). Deliberately choosing to live a lifestyle of sin (and rebellion against God) is immensely different from sinning because of our fallen nature. When we walk in darkness, we do not see ourselves clearly, but when we walk in light, though we see our uncleanliness, we can be sure that Jesus has cleansed us from all of our sin.
3. Although Jesus has cleansed us from all of our sin, on this side of eternity, we still sin. We are simultaneously sinners and saints. Saints because of the grace of God through his son Jesus Christ, and sinners because of the sin nature that we are being rid of in this lifetime through the sanctification process.
When was the last time you thought of your sins and more importantly, your sin nature? Many of us have become experts of grace, but need to re-think our nature as sinners. Repent of your sin, ask for forgiveness and trust that Jesus’ work on the cross is enough so that you will not end up justifying your sin with His grace.