REPOSTToday’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on July 22, 2015.
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“What We Can Learn from Jimmy Johnson about Family . . . and God”
1 King 19:19-21
So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen in front of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak upon him. 20 And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” 21 And he returned from following him and took the yoke of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him.
Jimmy Johnson is the first coach to win both the Super Bowl and a college football championship. On the surface, he and the prophet Elisha share much in common: both severed ties to their former life in pursuit of a newer challenge in life. Johnson, before joining the Dallas Cowboys, divorced his wife (his word) in order to totally dedicate himself to build a winner. As for Elisha, he got rid of everything that once meant something to him in order to follow and be mentored by the prophet Elijah.
And it wouldn’t be too farfetched to imagine Jesus, who once commanded a dishonest manager for his shrewdness in preparing for his jobless future (Lk. 16:1-13), lauding Johnson for his “reckless abandonment” to pursue a goal. Christ certainly would have backed Elisha’s decision since he said that “everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold . . .” (Matt. 19:29).
Ultimately, however, Jesus wouldn’t use Johnson as a poster child to show “what commitment to God” looks like since breaking one commandment (“I hate divorce” [Mal. 2:16]) to keep another is never acceptable to Him (Mk. 7:9-13). And to Elisha, Jesus would say what He told the apostle John while he hung on the cross: “‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home” (Jn. 19:27). Huh? Certainly, we must always follow God’s call in our lives even if it conflicts with our family obligations; that, however, does not release us from fulfilling them. The apostle Paul writes, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8). We “should . . . “practice the latter, without neglecting the former” (Matt. 23:23).
Johnson came to see the importance of family later on while coaching another NFL team when he couldn’t attend the wake of his mother in order to prepare for a playoff game, this, after his father had been diagnosed with cancer as well. Johnson said, “It opened up my eyes. . . . There are times when you pull back and say, ‘Be with the people that you care about. Don’t shortchange them.'” Well, don’t shortchange God either.
Prayer: God, I marvel at Your goodness, especially in light of my heart’s inclination toward always doing what pleases and satisfies me. For my precious Lord of grace and mercy, I ought to follow You with “reckless abandonment.” But why am I so hesitant to follow You? Please allow events to occur in my life so that I will always keep You as my top priority in all things. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: John 19
Lunch Break Study
Read Mark 1:30-1: Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
John 2:4-5: When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Rom. 2:24: For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
Mark 3:31-5: And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32 And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” 33 And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
Question to Consider
1. What is clearly addressed in 1 Tim. 5:8 (cited in the morning devotion), Mk. 1:30-1 and Jn. 2:4-5?
2. What is Paul’s ultimate concern expressed in 1 Tim. 5:8?
3. What is the point Jesus is making in Mk. 3:31-5? What is one danger of misunderstanding that?
1. Even as you seek to do God’s will (which may require being away from your family), you need to be careful not to become negligent in providing for their economic needs, being there when they need you, and meeting the needs of your parents.
2. The world will put Christians down for being irresponsible and ungrateful people, as well as neglecting their family obligations. Ultimately, that would bring dishonor to the Lord.
3. We also have an obligation to God which is greater than our family obligation. When this is read in view of other related passages, we must practice one without neglecting the other. This is much harder to do than choosing one side while ignoring the other.
Reflecting back to today, what tough choices did you face that pitted your family obligations “against” your obligations to God and His cause? How did you handle it? This isn’t an easy issue for all of us. Unless we cultivate an intimate relationship with God, we will continue to prioritize our earthly interests, however legitimate, over God’s. Pray. Ask God for discernment, encouragement and even creativity to fulfill both obligations.