Grace to You Devotionals

Devotionals

August 14

Showing Kindness

"Love is kind" (1 Cor. 13:4).

Kindness repays evil with good.

Two men going opposite directions on a narrow mountain trail met each other head on. With a steep cliff on one side and sheer rock on the other, they were unable to pass. The harder they tried to squeeze past one another the more frustrated they became. The situation seemed hopeless until one of them, without saying a word, simply laid down on the trail, allowing the other man to walk over him. That illustrates kindness, which doesn't mind getting walked on if it benefits someone else.

The Greek word translated "kind" in 1 Corinthians 13:4 literally means "useful," "serving," or "gracious." It isn't simply the sweet attitude we usually associate with kindness; it's the idea of being useful to others. It's the flip side of patience. Patience endures abuses from others; kindness repays them with good deeds.

God committed the supreme act of kindness when He provided salvation for lost sinners. Titus 3:3-5 says, "We also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us."

Jesus said, "Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light" (Matt. 11:29-30). The word translated "easy" is translated "kind" in 1 Corinthians 13:4. Jesus was saying, "Trust in Me and I'll redeem you and show you My kindness."

Since "you have tasted the kindness of the Lord" (1 Pet. 2:3), you should be anxious to show kindness to others. That's what Paul wanted the Corinthian believers to do. He knew they had the capacity, but they needed to repent of their selfish ways and allow love to dominate their lives.

Suggestions for Prayer

The evil world in which we live gives abundant opportunity for you to express kindness to others. Ask the Lord to help you take full advantage of every opportunity to do so today.

For Further Study

Read Matthew 5:38-48, noting the practical expressions of kindness Jesus instructed His followers to pursue.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.

August 14

Being Devoted to God

“‘Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also’” (Matthew 6:21).

The believer is to have a single-minded devotion to God.

British pastor Martyn Lloyd-Jones told the story of a farmer who one day went happily to his wife and family to report that their best cow had given birth to twin calves, one brown and one white. The farmer said, “I suddenly had an impulse that we must dedicate one of these calves to the Lord. We will sell one and keep the proceeds; the other we will also sell, but give the proceeds to the Lord’s work.” His wife asked him which one he was going to dedicate to the Lord. He replied, “There is no need to bother about that now. We will treat them both the same way, and when the time comes, we will do as I say.” And off he went. A few months later the farmer entered his kitchen looking unhappy. When his wife asked him what was troubling him, he answered, “I have bad news to give you. The Lord’s calf is dead.”

We laugh at the story because we all tend to lay up treasure on earth. We want to be rich toward self but poor toward God. Jesus speaks directly to that wrong thinking by saying “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:21). Your heart and your treasure go together—they both need to be in Heaven. Our Lord is speaking of a single-minded devotion to God and His cause that is undistracted by the world.

Jesus is not saying that if you put your treasure in the right place, your heart will then be in the right place, but that the location of your treasure indicates where your heart already is. Spiritual problems are always heart problems. God’s principle for His people has always been, “Honor the Lord from your wealth, and from the first of all your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine” (Prov. 3:9-10). What about you? Is that the principle by which you live?

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Lord to help you have a single-minded devotion to His kingdom.

For Further Study

Read Luke 6:38 and 2 Corinthians 9:6. What is the common principle in both verses?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.

August 14

Reading for Today:

  • Job 19:1–20:29
  • Psalm 95:6-11
  • Proverbs 23:4-5
  • Romans 13:1-14

Notes:

Job 19:20 skin of my teeth. This was the origin of a common slang phrase, referring to skin that is thin and fragile. The idea is that he had escaped death by a very slim margin. The loss of all his family, as well as the abuse of his friends was added to the terror of God-forsakeness which had gripped him.

Job 19:23–29 At the point of Job’s greatest despair, his faith appeared at its highest as he confidently affirmed that God was his Redeemer. He wanted that confidence in the record for all to know (vv. 23, 24). Job wished that the activities of his life were put into words and “inscribed in granite,” so all would know that he had not sinned to the magnitude of his suffering. God granted his prayer. God was his Redeemer (Ex. 6:6; Ps. 19:14; 72:14; Is. 43:14; 47:4; 49:26; Jer. 50:34),who would vindicate him in that last day of judgment on the earth when justice was finally done (Jer. 12:1–3; John 5:25, 29; Rev. 20:11–15).

Psalm 95:9 tested Me. This is a reference to the same event (v. 8), also called “Massah” (translated “testing”), when God brought water out of the rock (Ex. 17:7; Deut. 6:16; 9:22; 33:8). The writer to the Hebrews applies the principle of this event to his readers, suggesting that their inclination to doubt the Lord and return to Judaism was parallel with their fathers’ inclination to doubt the Lord and go back to Egypt.

Proverbs 23:4, 5 Rather than wearing oneself out pursuing wealth, pursue the wisdom of God and what glorifies Him, and He will bless with prosperity as He chooses.

Romans 13:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ. This phrase summarizes sanctification, the continuing spiritual process in which those who have been saved by faith are transformed into His image and likeness (2 Cor. 3:18; Gal. 4:19; Phil. 3:13, 14; Col. 2:7; 1 John 3:2, 3). The image Paul uses to describe that process is taking off and putting on clothing, which is symbolic of thoughts and behavior. no provision. This word has the basic meaning of planning ahead or forethought. Most sinful behavior results from wrong ideas and lustful desires we allow to linger in our minds (James 1:14, 15).


DAY 14: How should a Christian respond to the government?

In Romans 13:1, Paul says, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities.” This Greek word was used of a soldier’s absolute obedience to his superior officer. Scripture makes one exception to this command: when obedience to civil authority would require disobedience to God’s word (Ex. 1:17; Dan. 3:16–18; 6:7, 10; Acts 4:19, 20; 5:28, 29). Every position of civil authority without regard to competency, morality, reasonableness, or any other caveat (1 Thess. 4:11, 12; 1 Tim. 2:1, 2; Titus 3:1, 2). “For there is no authority except from God.” Since He alone is the sovereign ruler of the universe (Pss. 62:11; 103:19; 1 Tim. 6:15), He has instituted 4 authorities on earth: 1) the government over all citizens; 2) the church over all believers; 3) the parents over all children; and 4) the masters over all employees. Human government’s authority is “appointed” and is defined by God. He instituted human government to reward good and to restrain sin in an evil, fallen world.

Since all government is God-ordained, disobedience is rebellion against God (v. 2) and will be met with judgment. Not God’s judgment, but punishment from the government for breaking the law. Even the most wicked, godless governments act as a deterrent to crime. Peaceful, law-abiding citizens need not fear the authorities. Few governments will harm those who obey their laws. In fact, governments usually commend such people.

“For because of this you also pay taxes” (v. 6). The Greek word referred specifically to taxes paid by individuals, particularly those living in a conquered nation to their foreign rulers—which makes the tax even more onerous. That tax was usually a combined income and property tax. In this context, however, Paul uses the term in the broadest possible sense to speak of all kinds of taxes. Jesus explicitly taught that taxes are to be paid—even to the pagan Roman government (Matt. 22:17–21). He also set an example by willingly paying the temple tax (Matt. 17:24–27). “Render…to all their due” (v. 7). “Render” translates a Greek word signifying the payment of something owed—not a voluntary contribution—and is reinforced by the word “due.” The apostle reiterates that paying taxes is mandatory.

From The MacArthur Daily Bible Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Bibles, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN 37214, www.thomasnelson.com.

August 14 - Jesus Urges Compassion

But go and learn what this means: I desire compassion, and not sacrifice”’” (Matthew 9:13).

Jesus never shied away from speaking directly and bluntly if the situation demanded such talk. Here He pins the Jewish leaders to the wall by quoting from their own most honored scriptural authorities. Their own prophets rebuke them for their spiritual ignorance and their lack of obedience to God’s clear commands.

Jesus paraphrases Hosea’s prophetic and divinely inspired words: “I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hos. 6:6). The perfect Word of God should have been the Pharisees’ supreme concern, as it should be ours, rather than the flawed words and ideas of humanity. Without true and godly compassion, all the Pharisees’ rituals, ceremonies, and sacrifices were worth nothing to God. The person who is indifferent toward other people verifies that he or she is also indifferent toward God, no matter how correct their theology or impeccable their morality.

Ritual separated from righteousness and a concern for the downtrodden and lost has always been an affront to God. Through the prophet Amos, the Lord declared, “Take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:23–24).

Ask Yourself

In what ways have you let duty and religious reputation become elevated in importance beyond genuine love and compassion for others? What is so empty about the former . . . and so rejuvenating about the latter?

From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610, www.moodypublishers.com.
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