January 25 | Daily Devotion

If you plan to read every verse of Scripture this year, use the Lectio Continua (continuous reading) passages. The Lectio Semi-continua (shorter reading) is an abbreviated selection of verses from the day’s passages. Lectio Divina (divine reading) is Pastor Lionel Young’s commentary on the daily readings. See the Resources page on the Lectio Divina website for additional study helps.

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina (meditation on the text)

“But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” ~God to Pharaoh, Exodus 9:16

The hardening of Pharaoh’s heart is one of the most interesting theological points in Scripture. Did Pharaoh harden his own heart (Ex. 8:15, 8:32, 9:34), or did God harden Pharaoh’s heart (Ex. 9:12, 10:1, 10:20, 10: 27, passim)? Yes, and yes. In this series of confrontations between Moses and Aaron and Pharaoh, we are introduced to the mysterious intersection of human responsibility and divine sovereignty.

So often, when we’re in the moment, we understand neither the inner workings of men’s hearts nor the larger purposes God has in mind. (See Romans 9:17-18 for an interesting commentary on Pharaoh’s purpose.) What is clear, however, is that God ultimately holds people responsible for their actions. He confronts them over sin and calls them to change; but, at the same time, He cleverly uses their actions to bring about His purpose (again, see Romans 9:17-18). Amazing! Nowhere in Scripture does God simply ignore the sinful actions of His creatures. Pharaoh was confronted again and again and again. God finally dealt with his stubbornness by further hardening his heart (ironic justice, right?) and then judging his mulish refusal to listen.

In the New Testament reading from Matthew 18, Jesus teaches us not to ignore people’s sins. Overlooking wrongdoing only makes matters worse for us and for the doers! However, there is a particular method to biblical confrontation. We are neither to sit in judgment of people who offend (Matt. 7:1), nor are we to run around blabbing about how we’ve been hurt. Instead, the way to glorify God when we’ve been wronged is to talk to the people who have sinned against us and to speak with the goal of winning your brother or sister over (Matt. 18:5). Make your words wise and winsome, as well as honest.

The only reason to involve others in a conflict is if the instigator refuses to listen or becomes stubborn. (Airing grievances, otherwise known as complaining or gossiping, solves nothing.) Aid should come from a wise and mature friend or an elder or mentor. In fact, church elders are called to take action when someone refuses reconciliation or persists in sin (see 1 Corinthians 5). With those who are not part of a church community, do all you can to make peace, refuse to get even, and leave judgment and discipline to God (Rom. 12:17-21).

Grace should cover a lot of things, but don’t ignore the offenses of others unless they are minor (Prov. 19:11). God confronts those who are doing wrong, and Jesus calls us to do the same. I know it’s hard, but imagine how much better this world would be if we dealt with wrongdoing instead of ignoring it!

Lectio Divina  is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of  Calvary Church  in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of  A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.