July 18, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Sieun Choi, Gracepoint Berkeley

Why does God, who was himself “grieved” by Saul, chide Samuel for continuing to “mourn for Saul”? God Himself grieved for Saul, but He chides Samuel for continuing to mourn for Saul. He says to Samuel – How long will you mourn for Saul, I have rejected him. Now move on because I have prepared another person to be king. God doesn’t just remain in His grief over Saul and His disobedience and rejection of God, but He is continually moving to do His work and He has already prepared someone else to take Saul’s place and lead His people. This shows me that while our sins and failures do grieve God and anger Him, it doesn’t stop Him and He is working to continue His agenda. He doesn’t give up, doesn’t waste time, He’s focused on getting His work done and He is still willing to work with His people.

Is there some loss I am grieving, or some source of discouragement I am dwelling on to an inappropriate degree or self-indulgent way? I feel discouraged and grief over my sins and my actions that harm and hurt others, as well as my stubbornness and pride that wants to deny it when it is exposed. I feel discouraged when I see my failures as a friend, a wife, a leader, and can easily just swim in my thoughts of grief in a self-indulgent way. But while I see that it’s appropriate to feel grief over myself and a sense of shame, it’s inappropriate to dwell on it excessively in a self-indulgent way so that I am not able to see what God is still doing, not able to continue in what God is still calling me to do. Instead I need to be humbled and also grateful and in awe that still God uses people and doesn’t give up. This text is so timely for me right as I have been feeling grief and slight paralysis about myself and my sins. My thoughts swirl around in the ways I have failed and just stay self-indulgent in pity. But while God wants me to notice these things and is grieved Himself, He doesn’t indulge and let it paralyze His work, but He wants me to move on, to grow in what it means to follow faithfully, obediently, humbly. There are people whom I need to be that shepherd for, there are leaders I need to encourage and work hard with, there are co-laborers who are working hard and I need to work alongside.

Reflect on the fact that “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  What are some external things that the world looks at to evaluate people?

  • Competence. People admire and value people when they’re able to multi-task and do it well, accomplish tasks, have many skills and talents and is overall an “asset” to the group.
  • Social skills. The world values those who are charming and pleasant, can win the crowd and are “good” with people, may be the life of the party, bring laughter and fun to whatever group they are a part of.
  • External beauty and looks. The world values those who have the socially acceptable appearance, physically fit and beautiful, grooms self well and you wouldn’t be embarrassed to be with that person, is up to date with fashion and style, confident.
  • Accomplishments. The world values those who are intelligent, has good career and wide network, have impressive achievements on belt that show that they are driven and successful.

Where is my greater focus, “outward appearance” or “the heart” when it comes to evaluating myself, and others? It always startles me how even now I still have an initial response to the “outward appearances” rather than the heart of people. I realize how deep these world values have been entrenched and need to be conscience to fight initial assessments and even prejudices. When people seem “popular”, have a certain confidence or is even well accomplished, I feel slightly intimidated or even admire them. But as I do ministry and understand that what is external doesn’t reflect the heart, and what’s in the heart is what they are really about, that people have real needs that contradict their external appearance, I realize I need to battle my focus on the external things, to not value and judge people by their appearances, to think that person is able, but really need to look at the heart and what is going on inside and think in what ways do they need help, in what ways do I need to be more discerning and not just judge by the external.

Even with myself, I just get focused on how I appear a certain way – have failed in certain way and seem foolish or incompetent to others, and I just feel ashamed or just want to hide. Or things will be going ok externally, and humility flees and I take pride and reassurance. This is so foolish because in the end, it’s what’s in my heart that matter to God and will also manifest itself and affect my ministry, my relationships with people, the things of the long run.

What am I doing to cultivate a heart after God?I need to be a person of obedience and self-denial, of just being faithful to follow God and do what He asks regardless of how I feel about myself and how I feel about other people, how competent or incompetent, how well put together or how frazzled I may feel. I need to deny my assessment of myself (I stink and I’m a failure, or I’m doing ok and things are pretty awesome), and be humble to just follow and obey. When struggles come out, to not over-grieve but to just be humble and follow, when things are going well, to not get proud and complacent but to be faithful to take care of God’s people under my care… In the end, it’s about obedience to God that will cultivate a heart that is after God and not myself.


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