December 15, Wednesday

REPOSTToday’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on April 1, 2015, is provided by Pastor Shan Gian who leads Remnant Westside Church in Manhattan.  Shan is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Gordon Conwell Seminary (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“What About Me?”

1 Samuel 18:6-9

As they were coming home, when David returned from striking down the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments. 7 And the women sang to one another as they celebrated, “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” 8 And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?” 9 And Saul eyed David from that day on.

Sometimes, it’s really hard to celebrate.  Sure, celebration at first glance sounds like a great idea; it’s a party!  We hear or share a story of something exciting that has happened, eat some great food and just be happy for someone who has really been blessed.  Celebration is awesome, but we don’t do it very often; and if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s hard to do.

Let’s just think about how hard it can be to be happy for someone else.  We’ve all been there before.  A good friend of yours gets a promotion or raise, and of course you’re happy for them, but then you can’t help but think, “What about me?”  Someone you know gets married or gets engaged and you’re happy for them, but then you suddenly start wondering, “When is it my turn?”  Even pastors go through this:  A fellow pastor starts a new ministry or a new church and it’s growing like wildfire. But then what do we do?  We start to think, “How do I compare?  Am I not doing a good enough job?”

In 1 Samuel 18, we see people celebrating a great victory over the Philistines.  These women were singing about how Israel, the people of God, had defeated their great enemy, the Philistines, relieving oppression and bringing freedom to the people.  This was a great day of celebration for Israel.  God had done something great for his people, but somehow Saul couldn’t celebrate.  He couldn’t find joy in what God had done because of this one little line: “Saul has struck his thousands, David his ten thousands.”  It only took a few words to spark this heart of comparison within Saul, causing him to take his eyes off of what God was doing.

There are no winners in the comparison game.  When we compare ourselves to others, it only leaves us feeling inadequate, or even worse, it makes us feel superior. If we live a life of trying to measure up, we will always fall short.   What should we do instead?  Look at what God is doing and celebrate.  The less life is about ourselves and more about God, the greater the joy we will experience.

Prayer: Lord, help me to keep my eyes on You and what You are doing.  I pray that you will free me from comparison and envy, so that I will be able to celebrate what You are doing.  Fill me with a greater joy as I experience more of you.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Romans 11

Lunch Bible Study

Read Luke 18:9-14He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Questions to Consider

  1. How does the Pharisee measure his worth?  How does the tax collector measure his worth?
  2. Who do you compare yourself to?  
  3. How does focusing our eyes on God free us from comparison?  

Notes

  1. The Pharisee measures himself again the tax collector.  His worth comes from his own righteousness and good works, and how he is better than this tax collector and other sinners.  On the other hand, the tax collector measures his worth in comparison to God himself, which is why he appeals to God for mercy.  He knows that he is a sinner in view of who God is and his only hope is the mercy of God.  If the tax collector compared himself to the Pharisee, at best, he would strive to do good works and be as good as he, but since his life is in view of God’s mercy, his best is now to be exalted by God.
  2. Personal reflection question
  3. When we focus our eyes upon God, we are freed from comparison and envy because we no longer measure ourselves against other people.  Focusing on Jesus frees us from thinking about how to be better or more righteous than other people, because we know that everything is dependent on the mercy of God.   

Evening Reflection

Focusing our eyes on Jesus can set us free from ourselves.  How did you feel today as you strived to keep your eyes on Him?  Did you feel freer and more joyful?  Take some time to pray or journal about how living in view of God’s mercy has blessed you this day.

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