1) Mark 10:43 (MSG); 2) Matthew 7:16a (CEV)
1) Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. 2) You can tell what they are by what they do.
James and John have come to Jesus asking for positions of honour in the kingdom of God. The other disciples became angry when they hear about it. (Perhaps they wanted same thing.) So, Jesus corrects their thinking, turning their concept of greatness on its head. He shows the way: the one who truly is the greatest has come to serve and will go even further in giving up his life for us.
I’ve no such ambitions for greatness, but I still fall into wrong thinking.
I have two people in my family who need a lot of help coping with health problems and with issues of life in general. It’s taken lots of my time recently. I’ve found myself thinking that this time is being taken away from more significant things I should be doing for God – that the simple things like cleaning, searching for hearing aids or even just spending time are less significant than “more spiritual things”. God’s had to pull me up. For now, they are my gift. Serving them is not a distraction.
My other wrong thinking has been the flip side of James and John’s mistake. Far from thinking of greatness, I’m struggling with adequacy, with feeling responsible for them. God’s had to remind me that he doesn’t give me jobs to do on my own. He’s doing it with me, and he’s doing the hard bits. The creator or the universe, the saviour of humanity is working in their lives. Whatever he does is greatness. My small part is an honour even when it just feels like hard work.
Jesus doesn’t say to do the job of a servant but to “become a servant”. God’s not fooled if I just act as a servant. I need to pull my heart into line with him, not just my actions.
Written by David Cornell