How Can I Be Great in God's Kingdom? (Y1.T2.D31)
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Greatness in God's kingdom can be summed up in one word: serve.
Jesus had already told his disciples "The first will be last and the last will be first" (Matthew 19:30). And he repeats the same message (Matthew 20:16) as he nears his final entrance into Jerusalem.
However, as he tells his disciples that he's about to be executed, what do they do?
Squabble about who will sit at his right or left side in the kingdom.
I confess I've been there before. No matter how hard I try to put my pride aside, an empty section of my heart craves human accolades. I enjoy receiving flowers and a pat on the back. And I really dislike being picked last. But I have to overcome all of that and remember Jesus said:
When you do merciful deeds, don’t sound a trumpet before yourself, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may get glory from men. Most certainly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you do merciful deeds, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand does, so that your merciful deeds may be in secret, then your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. (Matthew 6:2–4)
To settle the argument his disciples were having, Jesus said:
Whoever desires to be first among you shall be your bondservant, even as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:27–28).
So, while it may be hard, I have to admit, I admire the human beings who put their personal needs aside for the sake of others—providing they aren't doing it for acclaim. The truly altruistic among us do top my list of greats.
In fact, for those of you who listen to the meditation music link at the end of each blog, today I have selected a song that—for me—represents the idea of self-sacrificial living. When it comes to people, it seems the only way to be great is to not want to be great at all.
Make Me a Back-of-the-line Servant
45 Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary [Lazarus' sister] and saw what Jesus did believed in him. 46 But some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things which Jesus had done. 47 The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees gathered a council, and said, “What are we doing? For this man does many signs. 48 If we leave him alone like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”
49 But a certain one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, 50 nor do you consider that it is advantageous for us that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” 51 Now he didn’t say this of himself, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but that he might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day forward they took counsel that they might put him to death. 54 Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews, but departed from there into the country near the wilderness, to a city called Ephraim. He stayed there with his disciples. (John 11:45–54)
34 They understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they didn’t understand the things that were said. (Luke 18:34)
20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, kneeling and asking a certain thing of him. 21 He said to her, “What do you want?”
She said to him, “Command that these, my two sons, may sit, one on your right hand and one on your left hand, in your Kingdom.” (Matthew 20:20–21)
35 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came near to him, saying, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we will ask.”
36 He said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?”
37 They said to him, “Grant to us that we may sit, one at your right hand, and one at your left hand, in your glory.” (Mark 10:35–37)
Only You can cure my desire for human approval. I know if I continue to pursue the favor of men, I wouldn’t be a servant of Christ (Galatians 1:10). In the best part of my soul, I want to please You more than people (Acts 5:29). So help me as Your chosen one—holy and beloved—exhibit a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, and perseverance (Colossians 3:12).
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