Daily Devotion Weekend

This song was sung in the 1943 movie The Hu­man Com­e­dy, star­ring Mick­ey Roo­ney, which was nom­in­at­ed for Acad­e­my Awards in five cat­e­gor­ies, in­clud­ing Best Pic­ture and Best Ac­tor. Will­iam Sa­roy­an won Best Orig­in­al Sto­ry for the film.  Sho­wal­ter wrote this tune, and words to the ref­rain, af­ter hear­ing from two friends whose wives had died, & asked Hof­fman to write the re­main­ing lyr­ics.

Daily Devotion Weekend

One morning it came into my mind as I went to labour, to write an hymn on the ‘Gracious Experience of a Chris­tian.’ As I went up Hol­born I had the chorus,

‘On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.’

In the day I had four first verses complete, and wrote them off. On the Sabbath following I met brother King as I came out of Lisle Street Meeting…who informed me that his wife was very ill, and asked me to call and see her. I had an early tea, and called afterwards. He said that it was his usual custom to sing a hymn, read a portion, and engage in prayer, before he went to meeting. He looked for his hymn-book but could find it nowhere. I said, ‘I have some verses in my pocket; if he liked, we would sing them.’ We did, and his wife enjoyed them so much, that after service he asked me, as a favour, to leave a copy of them for his wife. I went home, and by the fireside composed the last two verses, wrote the whole off, and took them to sister King…As these verses so met the dying woman’s case, my attention to them was the more arrested, and I had a thousand printed for distribution. I sent one to the Spiritual Magazine, without my initials, which appeared some time after this. Brother Rees, of Crown Street, So­ho, brought out an edition of hymns [1836], and this hymn was in it. David Den­ham introduced it [1837] with Rees’ name, and others after…Your inserting this brief outline may in future shield me from the charge of stealth, and be a vindication of truthfulness in my connection with the Church of God.

Edward Mote
Letter to the Gospel Herald

Daily Devotion

Becoming An Effective Minister

Love is the key to effective ministry.

In 1 Corinthians 13:4 Paul says, “Love does not brag and is not arrogant.” We often equate bragging and arrogance, but in this passage there is a subtle difference. The Greek word translated “brag” emphasizes prideful speech or actions; “arrogant” emphasizes the attitude of pride motivating those actions.

The prideful attitudes of the Corinthians were evident in several areas. In 1 Corinthians 4:18-21 Paul says, “Some have become arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant, but their power. . . . What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod or with love and a spirit of gentleness?” (1 Cor. 4:18- 21). Apparently, some thought they no longer needed his instruction. “After all,” they reasoned, “we’ve had the best teachers—Apollos, Peter, and even Paul himself (1 Cor. 1:12)—so what need do we have for more instruction?” The fact was, they had just enough knowledge to inflate their egos, but they were woefully ignorant of love (1 Cor. 8:1).

It was arrogance that led the Corinthian church to condone gross immorality: “It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife [incest]. And you have become arrogant, and have not mourned instead, in order that the one who had done this deed might be removed from your midst” (1 Cor. 5:1- 2). They were too prideful to confront and correct that situation, so they bragged about it instead. Even pagans wouldn’t tolerate that kind of behavior!

That’s a tragic picture of people so blinded by pride that they refused to discern between good and evil. Consequently, all their spiritual activities were counterproductive. They were gifted by the Spirit and even flaunted their gifts, but lacked the love that transforms a gifted person into an effective minister.

Learn from the Corinthians’ mistakes. Never settle for mere spiritual activities. Let love motivate everything you do. Then God can honor your ministries and make them truly effective for His purposes.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to make you a more effective minister and to protect you from the blindness of arrogance.

For Further Study

What do the following proverbs say about pride: Proverbs 8:13; 11:2; and 29:23?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993

Daily Devotion

Exalting Others

Love exalts others; pride exalts self.

Most of us shy away from people who have an inflated view of themselves or place themselves at the center of every conversation. Yet perhaps you too struggle with the temptation to spend most of your conversations talking about yourself. Even if you would never openly brag about yourself, might you at times secretly resent others for not acknowledging your accomplishments? That’s the subtlety of pride.

Boasting always violates love because it seeks to exalt itself at the expense of others—to make itself look good while making others look inferior. It incites jealousy and other sins. Sadly, boasting exists even in the church. That’s why Paul exhorted us not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think, “but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith” (Rom. 12:3). The context of that statement is spiritual gifts, which can lead to pride if not governed by humility and love.

The Corinthians were spiritual show-offs—each vying for attention and prominence. Consequently their worship services were chaotic. First Corinthians 14:26 says, “When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation.” Apparently they all were expressing their spiritual gifts at the same time with no regard for anyone else. That’s why Paul concluded, “Let all things be done for edification.”

Their lack of love was obvious because people who truly love others don’t exalt themselves. They regard others as more important than themselves, just as Christ did when He humbled Himself and died for our sins (Phil. 2:3-8).

Boasting about our spiritual gifts is absurd because we did nothing to earn them. They don’t reflect our capabilities; they reflect God’s grace. That’s why Paul asked the Corinthians, “What do you have that you did not receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Cor. 4:7). That applies to physical capabilities as well as spiritual enablements. Everything you have is a gift from God. Therefore, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:31).

Suggestions for Prayer

• Each day acknowledge your total dependence on God’s grace.

• Praise Him for the gifts He has entrusted to you.

For Further Study

Note what God has to say about haughtiness in Proverbs 6:16-17; 16:18; 18:12; 21:3-4; and 21:24.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993

Daily Devotion

Showing Kindness

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

Daily Devotion

Winning Through Non-Retaliation

Love does not retaliate.

We usually think of patience as the ability to wait or endure without complaint—whether it’s with people or circumstances. But the Greek word translated “patience” in 1 Corinthians 13:4 refers specifically to patience with people. It literally means “to be long tempered,” and speaks of one who could easily retaliate when wronged but chooses not to.

That kind of patience is a spiritual virtue reflective of God Himself (cf. Gal 5:22). It can’t be duplicated on a purely human level. But for Christians, it’s to be a way of life. Paul said, “I . . . entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love” (Eph. 4:1-2).

God Himself is the supreme example of patience. Peter said, “[He] is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). Those who reject His grace are despising “the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience” (Rom. 2:4).

In the Greco-Roman world of Paul’s day, retaliating for a personal insult or injury was considered a virtue. Non- retaliation was interpreted as a sign of weakness. Our society is much the same. Our heroes tend to be those who fight back with physical strength or litigation. But that isn’t God’s perspective, nor was it Christ’s in praying for His killers, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

As you consider your own patience, remember that retaliation isn’t always blatant and forceful. It’s often subtle—like withholding affection from your spouse when he or she has wronged you, or withdrawing from a friend who has hurt you. But godly love never retaliates. It cares more for the feelings of others than for its own.

Remember the Lord’s patience toward you, and allow His Spirit to produce similar patience in you.

Suggestions for Prayer

If you are harboring resentment toward someone who has wronged you, confess it to the Lord and do everything you can to reconcile with that person.

For Further Study

Read Genesis 50:15-21.

• What fear did Joseph’s brothers have?

• How did Joseph react to their plea for forgiveness?

• How did God use the brothers’ sin to accomplish His own purposes?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993

Daily Devotion

Love In Action

Love is difficult to define, but it can be described by the behavior it produces.

Paul painted a portrait of the kind of love Jesus wants to produce in every believer. It is, in fact, a portrait of Christ Himself, who is love’s highest expression. Unlike most English translations, which include several adjectives, the Greek forms of all those properties are verbs. They do not focus on what love is so much as on what love does and does not do.

Set against the backdrop of the Corinthians’ self- promoting behavior, Paul’s words are a strong rebuke. He says in effect, “Love is patient, but you are impatient. Love is kind, but you are unkind toward those who disagree with you. Love is not jealous, but you envy those with certain spiritual gifts. Love does not brag, but you are proud of your theology. Love is not arrogant and does not act unbecomingly, but often you are rude and ill-mannered toward one another.

“Love does not seek its own, but you are self-centered. Love is not provoked, but you quarrel among yourselves. Love does not take into account a wrong suffered, but you hold grudges against each other. Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but you delight in one another’s failures. Love rejoices with the truth, but you distort and disobey God’s Word.

“Love bears all things, but you are defensive and resentful. Love is eager to believe the best about someone, but you are quick to assume the worst. Love never gives up and can tolerate incredible opposition, but you are weak and intolerant.”

Paul wanted the Corinthians to see the deficiencies in their love in light of the truth and make the needed corrections. You and I must do the same. So as we explore each of love’s characteristics, ask the Holy Spirit to purify your heart so others will clearly see Paul’s portrait of love on display in you.

Suggestions for Prayer

Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, substituting “Jesus” for “love.” Then praise Him for all His excellencies.

For Further Study

What does 1 John 3:13-18 teach about love?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993