REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on October 30, 2014.
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“The Peril of Over-Righteousness”
Ecclesiastes 7:15-6, 8 (NIV)
“In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these: the righteous perishing in their righteousness, and the wicked living long in their wickedness. 16 Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise—why destroy yourself?. . . 18 It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.”
When I was invited to preach at the year-end prayer meeting of pastors in Chihuahua (2003), I asked the pastor who invited me whether they were actually planning to pray from 8 PM to 1 AM. He said that the night will be devoted to praying, worship, special musical performance as well as preaching (me). Feeling righteous, I said, “Why not just pray 2-3 hours straight, instead of dragging this out and end up without praying much.” Then I added, “Find me a place near the meeting and I will pray there until it’s my time to preach.” So they found me a shack where I prayed until someone came to get me. And it was COLD. The next day, as I lay in bed with a severe flu, I kept seeing this word: PRIDE, i.e., I was overly righteous for my own good!
Overly righteous means, while you assume your action to be pleasing to God, in reality, it isn’t. The disciples often fell into this. Once, they expected a pat on the back after informing Jesus how they tried to stop a man from driving out demons in his name because he wasn’t one of them. Jesus responded, “Do not stop him” (Lk. 9:49-50). Another time, when the disciples rebuked those who brought babies to Jesus for prayer, instead of a nod of approval, he corrected them, saying “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them” (Lk. 18:16).
The error of overrighteousness is often committed by people who seem to care about the things of God, so much so that they have set ideas as to what or how things ought to be done. Once these thoughts, though not necessarily wrong, are idealized, then, anything that deviates from them becomes inacceptable. While key doctrines are always a matter of either/or, many things in Christian life aren’t like that. Thus, Paul declares, “Accept him whose faith is weak (i.e., from your standpoint), without passing judgment on disputable matters” (Rom. 14:1).
Is there anyone whom you are holding in “contempt” because you don’t approve of their way? Pray about whether it is legitimate or your idealized belief judging others. If so, ask for forgiveness.
Prayer: Father, I praise You for your awesome presence full of wonderful attributes like love and holiness. Thank You that Jesus’ righteousness has been so imputed on me that in Christ, it is as if I had never sinned. Forgive me for trying to add my own righteousness to elevate myself. May I always be content with the perfect righteousness of Christ that thoroughly covers me. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Romans 10
Lunch Break Study
Read Luke 18:9-14: To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Rom. 14:5-7: One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. . . . 10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat
Questions to Consider
1. What motivated the Pharisees to conform to external requirements for holiness and righteousness?
2. What distinguished the Pharisees from the tax collectors?
3. How should we handle situations where one is tempted to judge someone over his stance on a disputable matter?
1. They were motivated by receiving accolades (Matt. 6:1-2) from people for their apparent holiness and righteousness. To express them, they amplified their strength while exposing the weakness of others.
2. The Pharisees really had no need for God’s approval since they were quite content with the attention they were getting from the easily fooled people. On the other hand, the tax collectors, whom the people despised since they worked for the hated Romans, had nowhere to turn to other than God.
3. The first thing is to discern whether or not the matter at hand is essential; that is, whether the rise and fall of the historic Christian faith hinges on its stance. If not, then, while we can hold to our convictions and even try to persuade others to its rightness, we will not allow the difference to cause disunity.
Rare is a day when we have no discussion with anyone, sometimes quite contentious. Did you engage in one today? How did you handle it? We began the day talking about overrighteousness; let’s end it with thanking God for Christ’s righteousness that frees us from the condemnation (Rom. 8:1).