Today’s AMI Devotional QT is a reprint of Kate Moon’s blog originally posted on May 6, 2014. Kate continues to serve the Lord in E. Asia.
Devotional Thoughts for This Morning
“Meaningless Talk and Its Effect”
“For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. 11 They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain.”
“Smelly Cat, Smelly Cat what are they feeding you? / Smelly Cat, Smelly Cat it’s not your fault / They won’t take you to the vet / You’re obviously not their favorite pet / You may not be a bed of roses / And you’re no friend to those with noses . . .”
~Phoebe Buffay, Friends
What is interesting is that Paul focuses on the heart motive and effect more than the content. It’s as if the content almost didn’t warrant mentioning: that is how meaningless it was. For Paul, the main issue was that some people’s hearts were full of rebellion, deception and greed, and the effect of their teaching was disruption and confusion. These were serious issues which needed to be addressed.
In the video above, when Phoebe teaches this meaningless talk to her friends, it is relatively harmless – even somewhat entertaining. But there is another kind of teaching and influence that, though the content is just as devoid of true significance, can have a great negative effect on the community.
While a majority of us may not be in an official position to teach in the church, each of us does influence others with the words we say. Those of the “circumcision group” told others that they needed to be circumcised as well as believe in Jesus in order to be truly saved. Today, we can see how meaningless and silly this sounds, but back then, it was an idea that seriously confused people because of the cultural background they were coming from, where circumcision was a sign that you belonged to the people of God.
What do we truly believe about the gospel? Do we ever tell others that they need to do certain things if they are “true” Christians, putting a burden on them that Christ never intended? What is our heart behind saying these things?
Prayer: Dear Lord, would you check my heart and see if there is any deception in me? Any area in which I’m confused? Or any heart motive that is not right? Would you watch over the words of my mouth? Rather than meaningless talk, may they be filled with your life-giving words of truth. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 64
Lunch Break Study
Read Philippians 3:1-5, 7-9: “Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. 2 Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. 3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence . . . 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews . . . 7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ 8 . . . I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ . . . .”
Questions to Consider
- When Paul warns the Philippians against people who insisted that circumcision was necessary for salvation, why do you think he tells them to rejoice (v. 1)?
- What were the true signs of belonging to God (v. 3)?
- What is Paul calling “loss” and “garbage” (vv. 7-8)? How about us? Where do we place our confidence?
- This kind of teaching (i.e., telling people they need to do something more in order to be truly saved) has the effect of robbing people of their joy. To counter this effect, Paul exhorts them to rejoice!
- Faith in Jesus and good works produced by faith (service to God done through the filling and power of the Holy Spirit).
- All his prior achievements that he felt justified his standing before God, no longer held any value to the apostle. Yet how often do we have it backwards, placing our confidence in the “garbage,” while considering our identity in Jesus to be of little worth.
Did I walk through this day, confident and secure, because of who I have found myself to be in Jesus Christ? Or did I respond to people and situations in insecurity because I had been basing my confidence on my abilities, performance, or being well-liked? What idea of the gospel did I give others today?
If you lost sight, ask Jesus for forgiveness and the grace to help you raise him to the highest place once again, as the only Savior, the one and only true source of confidence. Then praise him. And rejoice!