“But Jesus called them unto Him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.”
The mother of James and John once approached Jesus with a bold, impertinent request: “Grant that these my two sons may sit, one on thy right hand and the other on thy left, in thy kingdom” (Matthew 20:21). To which Jesus responded; with the understatement of the ages—“Ye know not what ye ask” (Matthew 20:22).
Yet, what she was asking for, in asking for greatness, was not entirely wrong, even though she’d obviously gone about it in the wrong way …..
How often do we ask, plead, or pray for a thing, and we have no clear understanding of what we are really asking??
We are taught in (James 4) that we have not what we ask for because our motives are wrong: “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” (v. 3)
To want greatness is our God-given destiny. He has placed a desire deep within our hearts to do something great with our lives, to make a difference in the world, to possess a vital purpose, to live for something that will last, to be a part of something bigger. Wanting greatness is not the problem. Greatness is what He wants for us, too. The problem is primarily how we think we get there ….
Greatness, in the world’s estimation, is achieved by things like being in charge or being the best at something. Certain jobs or positions are considered synonymous with greatness: presidents, leaders, star athletes and entertainers, positions of power and authority; anything really that’s likely to win acclaim, notice, and applause. These are considered great ….
Nowhere in Jesus’ answer to this gutsy mother, her two boys, or the other ten disciples is the notion that greatness is undesirable. We just need to go after it the right way: not by striving to be prominent and recognized, or to appease our fleshly desires, but by seeking to serve first and foremost ….
“Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister.” (v. 26)
If your Christian life feels like nothing but dry duty and obligation today, it may be because you’ve stopped seeking to serve. If you’re not growing spiritually the way you once did, when faith was newer and seemingly more exciting, it may be because you’ve stopped seeking to serve. If you’re obsessed with what other people think of you and always craving more recognition, it may be because you’ve stopped seeking to serve. You’ve been thinking there’s another way to experience greatness. But I tell you in all love, there’s not. There’s only service, and that is through obedience ….
Serving Christ makes all of life come into perspective. The momentum of action reenergizes your heart, reversing what’s calcified into blandness and boredom. The choice to serve the Lord is one of the single most important decisions you will ever make. When you realize that daily Christian living is not Jesus serving you, but you serving Jesus, it changes your whole incentive and outlook. Your perception will be altered when this concept truly grips your heart …..
“Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (20:26-28).
Greatness is yours for the taking. But only by giving.
If you want to be great; which you should; choose to serve. Choose to give. No sacrifice is too great in light of the sacrifice that Jesus gave for You. Christ must be the supreme center of your life ….
“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:3-8)
In summary, what’s an obstacle that works against your desire to serve God and others? Think about this: what is one specific way you could serve today?
Let us pray ~
Father, thank You for creating us with dignity as Your image bearers, and for providing daily opportunities to experience greatness for Your Kingdom in Your service. I ask today that You would open my eyes to the people and the places that You would have me serve. Show me again, Lord, that I would have abundant life in serving You and losing myself for You. I give myself to You to be used for Your service, in whatever way You want to use me Lord. Let the words of my mouth, the actions of my body, and the meditations of my heart bring glory and honor to You alone. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen ….