In Acts 2:42 we read…
"They 'devoted' themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer" .
What does the word ’devoted’ mean to you?
In the Bible the word 'devoted' means to be earnest towards, to persevere, be constantly diligent.
Other versions of the Bible say things like 'they continued steadfastly, but as a word to describe the motivation of these early Christians, 'devotion' always struck me as very appropriate - a response from the heart.
Were they compelled or commanded to listen to the apostles teaching or attend fellowship, join in Holy Communion or the prayer meeting? No, they devoted themselves to these things.
There are times when we do have to 'continue steadfastly', but I'd rather be devoted.What prompted this 'devotion'?
They were responding to God's love for them, a love that expressed itself through sending Jesus to die on the Cross for their (and our) salvation. Their love in return expressed itself through a devotion to the necessary foundations of spiritual growth and church life.
Love's the Key
Few children are 'devoted' to attending school every day and learning their lessons. Governments have recognised this and, in order to make sure they don't miss out on their education, their attendance is required by law.
In the same way, there are times as Christians when we aren't 'devoted' to those things that are necessary for our individual growth and our contribution to the life of God's family. As a consequence 'the law', often in the form of a concerned fellow Christian, has to point us in the right direction.
None-the-less it's still the case that the basic motivation in the Christian life is love.
This is what motivated God - that while we were still sinners Christ died for us - and he has put this same love in our hearts so we can love him in return.
Give and Take
Is our Christian life all one of take and no give? Do we go to church just to get blessed?
Do we use our Christian faith like an insurance policy, calling on God as a last resort when things go wrong? Are we then disappointed when he doesn't appear to cough-up?
The Christian life is one of receiving and giving. Jesus set this precedent through sacrificially giving his life for us, but he received in return, receiving the joy of many lives saved, healed and set free as a result.
When our lives centre around our own little worlds there is little room for devotion. Most of our time and energy is taken up with staying alive and staying afloat. Stress and tension are our reward and our only devotion is towards going to bed and getting rid of the headache.
Somehow Jesus' words 'It is more blessed to give than receive' sound hollow at a time like that.
If you read Luke 10: 38-42 you will see there was conflict between Martha and her sister Mary over what was important at that moment. Martha was good at doing things, and now she was fretting because her sister left her to do all the work. So, when Jesus spoke to Martha it wasn’t to say that her busyness wasn’t necessary - they needed to eat.
His point was that Martha,
and ourselves like her, need to make time to sit at the feet of Jesus.
Jesus took time out of his busy schedule to be with his Father. Matha's sister Mary saw the importance of doing the same. We must learn this lesson too. Then the 'devotion' will return.
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